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Our History

ca. 1718

The heritage live oak that shades what is now the Scupture Garden of the San Antonio Museum of Art sprouts alongside the San Antonio River. 



The Lone Star Brewery complex, with two great towers, crenellated parapets, and outbuildings for cooper and blacksmith shops, bottling facilities, and stables, is built on Jones Avenue.


After the adoption of Prohibition, the once thriving brewery declines and the building becomes home to a cotton mill. It would subsequently serve as an ice factory, an auto repair shop, a uniform storage business, and the venue for other brief commercial endeavors.


The San Antonio Museum Association establishes the Witte Memorial Museum to house collections related to Texas history and natural history, transportation, and art. The fine art collection would later form the basis of the collection of what is now the San Antonio Museum of Art.


The buildings of the historic Lone Star Brewery complex are acquired for conversion into the San Antonio Museum of Art to house the fine arts collection, which was growing beyond the capacity of the Witte.


Following a $7.2 million renovation of the former brewery, the San Antonio Museum of Art opens to the public in March of 1981. Renovation funding was secured through grants from the Economic Development Administration, the City of San Antonio, and private individuals and foundations. A National Endowment for the Arts challenge grant helped establish the operating endowment.


The Museum receives the unparalleled collections of Latin American Folk Art formed by former Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller and Robert K. Winn, establishing it at the forefront of American institutions collecting in this area.


Trustee Gilbert M. Denman Jr. establishes the Museum's collection of Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World with the first of several large gifts of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art, forming the basis of what would become one of the largest Ancient Mediterranean collections in the southern United States.


Museum Trustees Walter F. and Lenora Brown begin donating what has grown to over 500 Asian objects, mostly Chinese ceramics. With additional later acquisitions, the Museum's collection of Asian art is now among the finest in the nation.



The 7,000-square-foot Cowden Gallery opens to present special exhibitions.


Upon the dissolution of the San Antonio Museum Association, the San Antonio Museum of Art becomes an independent non-profit organization. The Beretta Hops House, the brewery's former cooper shop, is renovated, and the Luby Courtyard opens, an outdoor space for family days and other celebrations.


The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art, a 30,000-square-foot wing, opens to display Latin American art from ancient to contemporary. Patsy and Marshall T. Steves Sr. acquire the iconic Urrutia Arch for the Museum and have it installed it in the Luby Courtyard.


The San Antonio Museum of Art receives accreditation from the American Association of Museums on November 6, 2000. The institution now has a staff of nearly 100.


In May, the new 15,000-square-foot Lenora and Walter F. Brown Asian Art Wing opens. 


The Museum Reach extension of San Antonio's famed River Walk opens. To accommodate the Museum's new riverfront access, the Gloria Galt River Landing, a shaded pavilion, esplanade, and terrace along the Museum's north side, is built.


SAMA installs the six-and-a-half ton Taihu Rock, given by our sister city Wuxi in China. 


The mission of the Museum is to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret significant works of art, representing a broad range of history and world cultures, which will strengthen our shared understanding of humanity.

The Museum conducts more than 500 guided tours, serves more than 20,000 students of all ages, and provides approximately 580 public programs each year. Programs include lectures, concerts, films, children’s workshops, scholarly symposia, family art activities, and special exhibitions.