San Antonio Museum to Preserve Ancient Rock Art Site in West Texas

New Witte Museum Enters Into Agreement to Preserve One of the Most Significant Archaeological Sites in North America
(SAN ANTONIO, TX) – The Witte Museum leadership proudly announces that the Rock Art Foundation has entrusted the White Shaman Preserve in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, administration and activities of the Foundation into the capable hands of the Witte. The impending transfer was announced on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 by Witte Museum President and CEO Marise McDermott and Rock Art Foundation Executive Director Greg Williams.
“This is a momentous day, during a defining time for the Witte,” said McDermott. “The gift of the Rock Art Foundation ensures lifelong learning for future generations interested in discovering and comprehending the lifeways of the ancient people of the Pecos.”

“The preservation of these rock art sites is such an important endeavor and the Witte Museum sees it the same way,” said Williams. “I have total faith and trust in the Witte management team. The Witte and the Rock Art Foundation are linked in common purpose and goals.”

“The Witte Museum has a long history of excavation and study in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, since the early 1930s, and has more than 20,000 artifacts from these archaic sites, many of which have yielded ground breaking research on the lifeways of hunter gatherer people in North America. We have learned so much about the bountiful land of Texas from these ancient people, who lived for thousands of years and who left tantalizing art narratives in rock shelters as well as stunningly efficient ways of hunting animals and gathering plants for food,” said McDermott.

“We are humbled and honored to be entrusted with the great responsibility of preserving the history of the Rock Art Foundation, which over several decades has led the way in stewardship, access and passion about the people of the Pecos, particularly the White Shaman Preserve,” added McDermott. “We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with all the enlightened and devoted Rock Art Foundation leaders, members and guide teams.”
Established in 1991 as a non-profit organization, the Rock Art Foundation, which is based in San Antonio, owns and maintains the White Shaman Preserve near the Seminole Canyon State Historical Park and the Lake Amstad National Recreational Area. The Foundation exists to promote the conservation and study of endangered Native American rock art in the Lower Pecos Region of Southwest Texas.

The Rock Art Foundation now includes more than 900 members, two of whom, board members Gale and Connie Galloway, purchased and then donated to the Foundation, one of the most important archaeological sites in the country, the White Shaman pictographs.

For more than 5,000 years, people of the Pecos recorded elaborate scenes on the limestone canvas of rock shelters and canyons in the region, including the White Shaman site. The rock art of the Lower Pecos is considered to be the earliest illuminated manuscripts in North America.

This announcement comes at a time of exciting transformation for the Witte Museum and for the debut of a major permanent exhibition on the People of the Pecos. In March of 2017, the New Witte will open with three major galleries and associated Labs, including the Kittie West Nelson Ferguson People of the Pecos Gallery will feature life size dioramas such as the Patty and Robert Hayes Habitation diorama and the Barbara and George Williams Fate Bell Shelter and will also include the Nancy Smith Hurd Rock Art Lab, the Capital Group Companies Outdoor Lab and the Lifeways Lab, where school children, families, and adults will experience and investigate the lifeways and journey stories of the ancient people.

To prepare for this major transformation and exhibition, Witte Museum Curator of Archeology Dr. Harry J. Shafer brought together 14 renowned scholars for a series of colloquia and a subsequent publication, Painters in Prehistory: Archeology and Art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands (Trinity University Press, 2013).

The Witte Museum and the Rock Art Foundation will be providing additional details during the Fall of 2016 and Winter of 2017. The terms of the agreement with the Rock Art Foundation take effect January 1, 2017. Beginning in January, tours will to be operated by the Witte Museum utilizing the current Rock Art Foundation Guide Team. The Foundation has a guide staff of 20 people, all of whom volunteer their time to the cause. Stay tuned for more details as they unfold.

About the Witte Museum:
Founded in 1926, the Witte Museum is located on the banks of the San Antonio River in Brackenridge Park and is San Antonio’s premier museum promoting lifelong learning through innovative exhibition, programs and collections in natural history, science and South Texas heritage. The New Witte, a $100 million transformation, will open in March 2017.