The Galveston County Museum cares for over 25,000 artifacts and archives. The vast majority of the artifacts have been donated by current and former county residents. Recent donations include photographs and documents from a family that survived the 1900 Storm, a pen and inkwell used by photographer and artist Jesus Murillo (1895-1971), and Mardi Gras costumes. The museum staff is always happy to talk with people interested in donating artifacts to the collection.
One of the most popular current exhibits include The 1900 Storm. One of the most interesting artifacts on exhibit is the coroner’s book from the period after the 1900 Storm. Personal items were collected, tagged and documented, along with a body’s description. In some cases, family members were able to identify their lost loved ones based on these items and description. What remains in the museum are those items never claimed. Another exhibit features Corner Stores. Once the heart of our neighborhoods, many museum visitors recall fond memories of their corner store. Our exhibit features the delivery bicycle from the Tropea store, which was once on exhibit at the Smithsonian. Other museum exhibits include Historic Photographers, Architecture, and Military History of Galveston County. The museum features seasonal exhibits highlighting their extensive collection of Mardi Gras and Treasure Ball costumes.
The Galveston County Museum used to be located on Market Street, in the old City National Bank building. Hurricane Ike flooded that building in 2008. Although the museum’s research and artifact collections were unharmed, the HVAC and electrical systems were destroyed. The collections were moved to a new location at Shearn Moody Plaza while a repairs or a new location could be planned. In 2015, the museum collections moved again to the county courthouse at 722 21st Street. With adequate office space, collections storage, and an empty space for a future gallery, museum staff and volunteers began planning and constructing a new exhibit hall. After a lot of hard work, staff changes, budget challenges, a pandemic, and a change in the management agreement, the museum reopened with consistent operating hours in 2022.
The Galveston County Museum is a joint project of the Galveston County Commissioners Court and Galveston County History, Inc. The Galveston County Historical Commission manages this arrangement, and they are involved with numerous other historic preservation projects. Historical commission volunteers have cleaned Fort Travis and installed interpretive signage so visitors have a better understanding of that important historic military site. They also cleaned and added signage to historic Camp Wallace. The camp is located in what is now Jack Brooks Park on Highway 6, on the mainland. It was once home and training grounds to 1000s of servicemen during World War II.
Volunteers are key to the museum. Volunteers greet visitors and help with photograph scanning and other work in the collections. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the museum.