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Originally home to the Ursuline Academy School for Girls in the 19th century, this historic property was purchased in 1965 by the San Antonio Conservation Society. The Society feared demolition and decided to save the 10 acres. With reflections of French design, the conglomeration of small buildings is beautiful, especially the small chapel adorned with amazing stained glass. Today the center is where creative adult and child artisans of all skill levels learn and teach. With expert instructors, this is the place to learn traditional and contemporary arts and crafts. Even if you are not interested in taking a class, stroll through the grounds and visit the art gallery, the chapel and the Copper Kitchen Restaurant.
Located directly across from the Alamo, this museum displays shocking wax mannequins so similar to the heroes, celebrities and fictional characters they represent, that it's almost creepy. You'll see Jim Carrey, Charlton Heston, Frankenstein, Dracula and many more. You'll feel like you got your money's worth in this odd museum. The weird items should be safe for kids, but if you have a squeamish little one, don't go into the cellar.
The city's upstart addition to the art and museum scene, the San Antonio Art League Museum, makes its home in a restored carriage house in the historic area of King William, just south of downtown. The museum's permanent collection of early Texas and regional art is not to be missed. Touring exhibits are special, too, with recent showings featuring Kate Ritson, Vincent Valdez and Beat Hallermann. Admission is free and donations are much appreciated.
For lovers of history, architecture and antiques, this home is a must-see. Built in 1876, this three-story, French Second Empire-style home belonged to prominent citizen Edward Steves. The interior is decorated with original pieces from the era. Incidentally, the one-story River House behind the home housed the first indoor swimming pool in the city. Since 1954, the San Antonio Conservation Society has maintained the homestead as a historic house museum.
Housed in what was once the Lone Star Brewery, this museum boasts fairly comprehensive collections of both ancient and Asian art. The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art displays what is probably one of the most impressive collections of pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, and Latin American modern and folk art in the United States. On Sundays, the museum sponsors educational workshops for children, in which they can create their own pieces of art to display at home. The museum also plays host to touring exhibits such as one featuring Egyptian artifacts on loan from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
The largest institute of its kind in the United States, this arts center works to preserve, promote and develop the art and culture of the Chicano/Latino/Native American population. And boy, do they have a great time doing it. With programs focusing on dance, literature, media arts, theater arts, visual arts and Chicano music, this organization is truly multi-disciplinary. Each year the center produces a myriad of events, including the Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio and Hecho a Mano (Made by Hand) fine arts and fine crafts market, as well as plays by its own theater company, Los Actores de San Antonio, and performances by the Guadalupe Dance Company. The historic, beautifully restored Guadalupe Theater provides the performance space for the center's events and houses the visual arts gallery. Once the centerpiece of South San Antonio's entertainment district, the 1940s era building has witnessed a long history of live entertainment punctuated by cultural pride.