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Galveston County
The Bryan Museum executive director discusses goals and initiatives to enhance regional appreciation of Texas history
by Ruth Ann Ruiz
Thursday, May 10, 2018

Joan Marshall of the Bryan MuseumDuring the freezing temperatures of mid-January 2018, Galveston welcomed the arrival of Joan Marshall as executive director of The Bryan Museum.  A native Texan, Marshall brings to the community a wealth of knowledge and experience in museum leadership.

Marshall has served as a director at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, TX and at the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA. She held posts at the Autry Museum of the American West and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA. She has experience working with the National Endowment for the Arts and recently served as the executive director of Travis Audubon Society in Austin.

In a recent interview with Guidry News, Joan shared some of her perspective on history and the role museums play in today’s world. “I’ve always found history fascinating because it asks ‘why is it we are where we are and how did we get here?’ Everything that happens today has some echo in the past.  Understanding history helps shine a light on our future”. 

Her love of people and history is expressed as she explains the role we all share in making history. “For me, it’s about providing inspiration for people who step through our doors. We really want people to see themselves in history and their role in history,” Marshall added. 

When asked what makes The Bryan Museum unique, Joan responded, “It’s a jewel of a museum.”  “We have a fantastic collection; one of the best in the nation, that covers Western history and art…you step through the doors of the museum and it all comes alive.” 

Under her leadership the museum is forging forward with virtual museum tours for students who are unable to travel to the museum.  In collaboration with a Houston-based literacy program, iWrite, The Bryan Museum is encouraging youth in developing creative writing skills through history lessons.  

Joan shared some thoughts for future goals, “We would like to partner with all the different cultural organizations in Galveston and around the state to shine a light on what they do. We’re trying to open our doors for the wider public”.

Living in Galveston provides Joan with daily historic encounters in a city which she describes as reminding her of Charleston or Savannah. She is delighted that Galveston has retained its historic qualities and appreciates the city’s emphasis on heritage tourism.  

The museum’s most recent acquisitions are currently located in her office and include a painting depicting the ship, Martha, by Julius Stockfleth, who immigrated to Galveston from Germany in the 1880’s, as well as the ship’s sextant and telescope.  

The Bryan Museum was founded by J.P. Bryan and opened in 2015.  It resides in the historic Galveston Orphan’s Home at 1315 21st St, Galveston, TX. 

Learn more about The Bryan Museum at

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