Texas has many uniting themes throughout the state, and one is a pride in the state’s history and natural beauty. The state’s wide variety of museums and botanical gardens is a testament to that pride, and these locations—which range in focus from the history of Dr Pepper to the oil industry to state wildlife and more—can make for the perfect (not to mention memorable) venue for a meeting or event. Many museums have several venue spaces to offer, making it easy to customize an event based on size, technology and set-up needs, and overall vibe.
Whether you’re on the hunt for a mingling-focused event space or a more formal, corporate meeting setting, Texas museums are a great place to check out. Plus, guests are sure to enjoy exploring the museum spaces during downtime between meeting sessions or throughout the event.
Below are four unique museum spaces, all of which offer venue space for formal or corporate events both large and small. Each also has an experienced on-site team ready to assist in the ideation, coordination and execution of an upcoming event.
For those looking for a Waco venue, consider hosting your meeting at a place that has attracted more than a million visitors since opening in 1991: Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute. Appropriately, the museum is located in the 1906 Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the “Home of Dr Pepper.”
The museum is dedicated not only to housing an impressive soft drink memorabilia collection, but also to educating visitors in the core principles of America’s system of free enterprise economics, using the soft drink industry as a relevant model of this system. During meeting downtime, participants are able to tour the museum, taking in the soft drink history to recharge between sessions. (Be sure to encourage your guests to pick up some Dr Pepper memorabilia of their own as a souvenir from this event!)
Among all the soft drink collectibles, though, the museum has identified several dedicated meeting and event spaces, both indoor and outdoor, making for turnkey event planning. The museum is fully ADA compliant, and add-on items like tables, chairs, and audio-visual equipment are available to rent if needed.
“The museum has hosted many successful events over the last 25 years, including weddings, gala events and conferences. The historic backdrop offers a unique environment for a variety of occasions,” says Mary Beth Farrell, communications manager. “The museum grounds are a historic part of downtown Waco. The surrounding buildings, including the former Behren’s Drug Company and Magnolia Market at the Silos, are also key players in Waco’s history.”
The venue’s three most popular meeting sites are the courtyard (with a capacity of 200 to 250 seated, 1,000 cocktail-style) Hillcrest Conference Center (70 seated, 100 cocktail-style), and Presidents Board Room (35 total), but the museum is willing to work with interested parties to find a unique meeting location if something a bit more outof-the-box is required.
The courtyard connects the museum’s two buildings, and can accommodate a 40-foot-by-60-foot tent. The space is wired to meet electrical needs, and it includes permanently installed canopies, making the space comfortable and shaded.
Hillcrest Conference Center, located in the museum’s East Wing Building (across from the original museum building), can be used as one large space or can be sectioned off into two separate rooms (which makes it a great option for smaller meetings or breakout sessions).
The Presidents Board Room, which is also in the East Wing Building (along with the gift shop, soda fountain, and Emerson Holt – Ted Getterman Exhibit Gallery) allows for an off-site meeting option that’s still tied to the museum. This space comes complete with a 70-inch TV and video conferencing capabilities as well as comfortable leather executive chairs.
PERMIAN BASIN PETROLEUM MUSEUM, MIDLAND
West Texans should consider the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum when looking for a meeting or event space, as the museum strikes a balance between sophistication and adventure. Your attendees will be able to participate in a selfguided tour of the museum’s exhibit spaces, and they’re able to accommodate events ranging from 20 to 500 guests.
“You can mingle among the creatures in the Permian Sea, be part of the team of petronauts as they plunge the PetroTrekker into new discoveries, or learn how oil and oil-derived products shape our everyday lives,” says Carey Behrends, director of rentals and programs. “With so many opportunities for creating imaginative atmospheres, the Petroleum Museum makes every event truly unforgettable.”
The museum, which dates back to 1975, commemorates the experience of the men and women in the oil industry in Texas but also digs far deeper into the world of petroleum. The museum’s morethan 40,000 square feet conveys a 230-millionyear journey, telling the story of petroleum and energy in both a fun an informative way through educational programs, interactive exhibits, an archives space, and a Petroleum Hall of Fame.
At the museum’s core is education, and so it offers several hands-on ways for kids (and families) to interact with the exhibits. The museum contains a wide variety of content, and some of their exhibits include the Mineral Gallery (featuring more than 90 mineral specimens from around the world), a 14-painting series by western artist Tom Lovell (each of which tells a story about the history of the Permian Basin), and the Chaparral Gallery (showcasing Chaparral race cars—and the technology behind them—which debuted in the 1960s).
“Science and technology knows no season, so if you’re in the process of planning an event, The Petroleum Museum is the right place,” says Behrends. “We offer stunning and educationally rich spaces from which to choose and create the ideal environment to fit any event. From sophisticated and dramatic to out-of-this-world, our distinctive venues offer perfect settings beyond compare.”
Popular event and meeting spaces include the auditorium, boardroom, west wing and oil patch, each of which has a different seating capacity (ranging from 12 people in the board room to 1,000 in the oil patch, which is an outdoor space) as well as a distinct overall vibe. It’s also possible to rent out the entire museum, which will allow for 600 attendees to comfortably participate in an on-site event.
BUCKHORN SALOON AND MUSEUM, SAN ANTONIO
Walk about history—this saloon and museum dates back to 1881, when a 17-year-old bartender/bellhop opened a saloon and began accepting horns and antlers as payment for a drink. The saloon’s collection soon grew to be quite impressive, and since then, Buckhorn Saloon and Museum has continued to collect wildlife from around the world (now housing more than 520 species).
In 2006, the museum expanded to include The Texas Ranger Museum, which spotlights hundreds of Texas Ranger memorabilia such as guns and badges. It also features a version of the city of San Antonio at the turn of the century, complete with a replica of the Buckhorn Saloon, a jail cell, blacksmith, and a model of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde getaway car (a 1934 Ford V8 Deluxe).
“The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum is a one-of-a-kind venue located in beautiful downtown San Antonio, just two blocks from The Alamo and steps away from the San Antonio Riverwalk,” says Karen Bippert, director of sales and marketing at The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum. “The Buckhorn is known widely for its unique collection of taxidermy animals from all around the world and has played host to events ranging from 20 to 2,000.”
As far as venue spaces go, the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum offers three main spaces: the Toepperwein Room, the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum, and the Texas Ranger Museum.
At 7,000 square feet, the Toepperwein Room can hold up to 420 guests for a seated meal or up to 500 for more of a “walk/talk/eat” set-up. The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum can accommodate 500 people for a seated meal, but the entire facility can fit up to 2,000 if desired. The Texas Ranger Museum—the smallest of the three available spaces—allows for up to 100 in a seated meal capacity and 180 for more of a mingling-style event.
For those in the market for a more meeting-style corporate event, the museum recommends the Toepperwein Room, which can be comfortably arranged for groups as small as 25 to 100. For those types of events, the museum has a mic, podium, and stage available for use, and can rent a projector and screen as well.
For the group seeking out a calming environment for an upcoming meeting or event, the Heard National Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal fit. Its primary purpose is to educate children about nature, and it features several indoor exhibits and collections as well as outdoor garden space and a 289-acre wildlife sanctuary. The museum’s mission is “to bring nature and people together to discover, enjoy, experience, restore, and preserve our environment.” The Heard dates back to 1967, when it was founded by Bessie Heard with a vision in mind for preserving and celebrating wildlife and the environment in North Texas.
“The unique beauty of the Heard’s nature preserve is incorporated into many of our gathering spaces,” says Stephanie Jennings, the museum’s marketing and communications director. “Many events are even conducted outdoors in the Native Plant Garden or in the Heard’s outdoor amphitheater.”
And its facilities are diverse, with both indoor and outdoor options as well as spaces that can accommodate small breakout sessions or larger, 100-person events.
“The Heard hosts educational and team-building programs ranging from canoe programs to our ropes course program,” adds Jennings. “These unique offerings can be incorporated into a variety of organizational meetings to further enhance the experience of attendees.”
The museum’s venue spaces include Laughlin Hall, the Native Plant Garden, Heard Amphitheater, and the Science Resource Center.
Laughlin Hall, located in the main museum building, can accommodate about 80 guests in its 1,400-square-foot space. Even though it’s an indoor facility, Laughlin Hall, with its large window space and beautiful view, provides a wonderful opportunity for bird watching. The Native Plant Garden is a 1-acre space ideal for smaller outdoor events.
Heard Amphitheater is another outdoor venue that seats up to 525— much larger than The Native Plant Garden—that’s especially suitable for concerts, speeches, education programs, and more.
The Science Resource Center, though indoors, gives a feeling of being one with nature. It was designed using green architecture and is positioned alongside a nature trail overlooking the wetlands and the museum’s wildlife sanctuary. The Science Resource Center can accommodate up to 100 people in its 1,200-square-foot space.