Saturday, February 23, 2008

Oil Exhibit

Like many of the prior posts, I felt the oil section of the Texas history exhibit did not do justice to the importance of oil in the vitalization and modernization of Texas industry after the plantation era. The problem is understandable- the exhibits are separated roughly into pre-Texas revolution (first floor), Texas revolution-early 1900's (second floor), and modern Texas history, relegating the oil-boom into a fairly small portion of the third floor. The most informative part of the display for me was the chart of urban development that spanned the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th (the implication being that the oil boom was what built Houston, Dallas and other Texas cities into what they are today). I did not know that there was a whole separate oil stock exchange in Texas, which I thought was pretty interesting. I also liked the progression of Hughes drillbits chronicled, but I'm sure they certainly could have included more tool development without enlarging the exhibit space; compared to the Famous Texan athletes display adjacent, the information density in the oil section seemed very sparse. I was very impressed with the complexity of some parts of the museum such as the imprisonment of Stephen F. Austin, where extensive light effects were coordinated with dynamic walls that revealed parts of the exhibit at a time to create a great transition effect. In contrast, the top floor as a whole seemed to have been put together with much less effort. A display on the evolution of oil drilling or the companies that fueled the Texan economy would have been a great addition.

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