What you see on exhibit at the Museum of the Gulf Coast is only the tip of the iceberg! The Museum has more than 35,000 items, many which are rarely on display. The Museum collects photographs, documents, and physical objects representing the biology and history of the Gulf Coast region ranging from prehistoric times to the present.
Some photographs can be viewed at The Portal to Texas History. The Museum frequently posts historical photos from its collection on Facebook. Please like and share! Reproductions are sometimes available by request. Fees may apply.
Donated in 1965. High wheel or penny farthing bicycle, ca. 1890. Donated by Henry Fredeman. First exhibited in the window of the Merchant’s National Bank in 1965. The modern design of the bicycle was called the “safety” bicycle when it made its debut. High wheel bicycles like this one were difficult to balance and stop, which caused many injuries for riders. Notice that the bicycle has no chain.
Janis Joplin magazines - Our Gulf Coast musicians are a source of inspiration to visitors from around the world. Many people come to see memorabilia pertaining to Janis Joplin. The museum currently has very few items which actually belonged to Janis and would love to have more to display.
John Gates family Bible, 1877. It is one of the first three items received by the Museum. A very expensive book at the time it was published, this Bible contains over 2,000 engravings by Gustave Dore, many of which are in color. Gustave Dore was one of the most popular and prolific illustrators of all time, producing over 10,000 engravings between 1860 and 1900.
Autoharp, also known as a “lap harp”. This is not actually a harp at all but a kind of chorded zither invented in the 1880s. There were many German immigrants who came to this area not long after Port Arthur’s founding. This item came from the Estate of Dorothy Cook in 1993.
Hotel keys to the Windsor Hotel at Sabine Pass ca. 1900.
Pickelhaube helmet, Bavarian (German). “Pickel” in this case means “point”. Ca. WW1. From the Estate of Dorothy Cook. Helmets of this type were originally designed in Prussia (Germany) in the 1840s to imitate those worn in the Napoleonic wars. Because it is made of leather, we know that it was produced before 1915. As the war continued, decorative helmets like this were abandoned by the infantry in favor of the steel helmets we normally associate with WWI, which decreased fatalities by
1998 Falcons MVP game ball given to Shane Dronnett. Donated by his mother, Candace Dronnett in 2013.
“China head” doll circa 1860 – 1880 belonging to Mrs. W.F. Fredeman. The head and hands of this doll are made of porcelain, but her feet are clay, suggesting they might have broken and been replaced. The doll’s body is stuffed with sawdust. Dolls of this type generally came from France or Germany, which has been famous for making high-quality dolls since the 15th century.