Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bullock Museum

While attending the oil industry exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas History Muesum this week, I was struck by a few things including the fact that the central theme to the museum's exhibit was the impact of the seminal period of Texas' oil industry (turn of the century through Spindletop). Not much was covered beyond the halfway mark of the century, and I suppose that is only appropriate given that the early period was probably the more interesting period of the industry's history.

Having grown up around the oil business, I believe that it continues to have a great impact on our lives in Texas. People board helicopters and work boats everyday in great numbers to go offshore in the Gulf of Mexico for 7 to 28 days at a time to plug their respective trades in the business. In contrast, the black and white images and relic drilling tools of the exhibit give an anachronistic view of what this business is about. Granted some things haven't changed about the business, but a few color images of a modern drilling or production rig in Texas' offshore waters would have been nice. I find the business to be fascinating and bizarre at the same time. It continues to impact the lives of many folks who get "oil in their veins" at a young age, spending years in what can be a difficult life, depending on what their skill level is (you know, boll weavel vs. roughneck; OK, so we got that much).

Perhaps its those B&W images that one is liable to forget and that is the real value of the museum's exhibit. It's not likely that we will forget the nature of the ongoing business anytime soon, so an exhibit with emphasis on the modern business isn't necessary. And I guess if one really cared what it is like to work in the offshore oil industry, they could visit the Offshore Energy Center's Ocean Star Museum in Galveston, Texas for a tour of a jack-up rig. This exhibit imparts the basics but perhaps isn't the most modern. I will pass on the Ocean Star though, as I still get boat feaver looking at an offshore rig.

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