Texas Heritage, Summer 2001 Page: 30
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Saving The Texas Centennial
by Gene Krane
Carl McQueary, director of the Republic of Texas Museum
in Austin, admits to being an avid collector - especially of
anything historical. He has collected Texas Centennial memorabilia
for years and has the postcards, spoons, glasses, plates,
and postcards to prove it.
So when he learned from his friend, Sally Baulch, curator of
the Texas Memorial Museum in Austin, that TMM had dioramas
from the 1936 Centennial in Dallas, he knew that he had
to see them. Baulch told him beforehand that the dioramas
were fragile and in poor condition. After all, at the close of the lected and eva
celebration, the dioramas were moved to the new Texas University of Te
Memorial Museum in Austin and displayed there for almost realistic fashion,
40 years. In the 1970s, when the museum needed space, the lishment of the
dioramas were relegated to the facility's dusty, dark storage The figures w
space. Originally a gift of the Humble Oil and Refining wax, and the de
Company to the celebration that commemorated the 100th were faithfully r
anniversary of Texas statehood, the dioramas were designed buttons. The art
and created by Edward Wilkinson of Houston and his staff. and according
Ruby Lee Schiwetz was the sculptor and ceramist, and her hus- same. Besides t
band/artist, Buck, painted the backgrounds. When Baulch and nishings and pl
McQueary unearthed the dioramas from storage in 1998, only Resurrecting
eight of the original 14 existed. labor of love for
What McQueary saw in the dioramas was a crumbling piece McQueary not
of Texas history. In a time before computers and video, the dio- with age Furthe
ramas were as historically accurate as months of research could had hastened tt
make them. Prior to their creation, original Spanish and aged McQueary
Mexican manuscripts were consulted, historic sites were visited, the two-month.
and surviving pioneers were interviewed. The research was col- clean and repai
and replicate mi
unsuitable for t
ments of broken
able pieces back
Through his t
of the Texas past
deal that was stn
where they has
created, these er
again ready to e(
luated by the Department of History at the
xas. The dioramas were then crafted to present in
highlights of this state's history, from the estabSpanish
missions to the winning of the West.
ithin the dioramas were made of hard sculpting
tails on the sculptures, including their clothing
reproduced-down to the size and shape of the
:ists had hand-sculpted and painted each figure,
to McQueary, no two of them is exactly the
he human figures, other elements such as furints,
were also created in a life-like manner.
this piece of Texas history was a painstaking
McQueary. As he began the restoration process,
ced that the sculpting wax had become brittle
_rmore, exposure to light and prolonged storage
ie deterioration process. None of this discourwho,
acting single-handedly, plunged ahead in
-long restoration process that required him to
more than 200 figures, reattach broken limbs,
nute details. When newer sculpting wax proved
ie repair project, McQueary melted down fragI
figures and used that wax to bring the retrievto
ireless effort, McQueary has resurrected a piece
t and allowed all of us to step back 65 years. In a
uck between the two Austin museums, the rejuis
were given to the Republic of Texas Museum,
ve become part of the permanent collection.
restored, many years after they were lovingly
nblems of our collective past stand whole, once
lucate another generation of Texans.
HERITAGE E SUMMER 2001
V." v *KOB -.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Summer 2001, periodical, Summer 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45385/m1/30/: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.