Most tourists going to Corpus Christi see the USS Lexington and the Texas State Aquarium, which features an aquatic nursery. Adults favor the former and families the latter. But Corpus Christi has some worthwhile attractions that are easy to overlook. Two of them are the Art Museum of South Texas and the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. Adults favor the former and families the latter.
The Art Museum of South Texas is on downtown’s waterfront. Nearby are a glorious fountain and people fishing in Corpus Christi Bay. From one inside museum window of a really fine Philip Johnson building design, you can see the USS Lexington, which has interactive World War II battle stations, a flight simulator, etc. This white shellcrete and plaster museum is not just about art. It’s an obvious community asset that brings in excellent temporary shows so that locals don’t have to travel great distances to see, say, a Chihuly sculpture. Socially adept, it sponsors painting workshops, art walks, shows films, etc.
What makes the Art Museum of South Texas a bit different from other museums is its focus on recent acquisitions and regional artists. For example, David Waterbury of Minneapolis, who attended Corpus Christi’s W. B. Ray High School, donated 21 works of art, and some of them are on relatively permanent display in an exhibition called “Conversations with Wood”.
Being a university research facility, The Marine Science Education Center’s intention is to educate families and increase environmental awareness. “Hundreds of sea turtles, ” it warns, “die each year from consuming plastic.” The popular blue crabs that are annually harvested and consumed on the Gulf Coast are decreasing in numbers, so this education center has turned a larval stage one into an odd cartoon character named Zoe. Despite parental prodding, I saw far more kids pushing buttons to make fish eyes light up than devoting their attention to the Estuary Explorium. But who knows? Perhaps one of those kids will grow up to solve the problem of the diminishing blue crab.