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Our Battle of the Alamo exhibition materials bring history to life

Helping a new museum bring history to life

Client’s Challenge

Families and school groups visit historical sites to learn about the past, but the sites often are less engaging than the events that took place there. In San Antonio, Texas, the Spanish mission where the Battle of the Alamo was fought is a perfect example. To remedy that, a new educational exhibition titled Battle for Texas: The Experience made its debut this spring.

The museum brings history to life by taking students and other visitors inside the Battle of the Alamo to experience it as the defenders did. This immersive approach not only gives visitors an understanding of WHAT the defenders went through, but HOW they would have felt going through it. In the re-created rooms of the Alamo, visitors see the hardships the defenders had to deal with, experience the sounds and smells of battle, and get a fresh sense of the character and courage of the defenders.

Producers BASE Entertainment and The Gold Group came to Hollister Creative to create educational materials based on the new exhibition that would make it as academically engaging as it is entertaining. They became aware of our education work through an award-winning student learning guide we had created for the traveling exhibit Mummies of the World. They wanted an original guide tied to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for Grades 4 and 7 – the two grades in which Texas students focus on state history.

Our Solution

With the client, we settled on a plan to create separate student learning guides for each grade. This enabled us to tailor the reading and challenge level of the lessons and activities to the appropriate grade level. More importantly, we could then give a detailed list of the TEKS standards supported by the materials – hugely important to teachers and schools considering field trips to the exhibit.

To make the materials flexible and easy to use, we organized them into self-contained learning units that could be presented as a single lesson or as a series of lessons, before, during or after a visit to Battle for Texas: The Experience. Each unit was crafted to contain interpretive text highlighting an aspect of the attraction, plus Social Studies and English Language Arts activities. The standards-based activities enable students to build academic skills as well as a deeper understanding of the Battle of the Alamo and Texas history.

Client Comment

Choosing Hollister Creative to develop the education materials for Battle for Texas: The Experience greatly enhanced our efforts to reach out to teachers and schools. Our education team was very impressed with the lesson plans developed for use in schools and the activities for students to do while at the attraction. Hollister met all our benchmarks and delivered a handsome, authoritative package on time and on budget.
– Joe Gold, Agency Principal, The Gold Group

Three Quick Tips

If you are challenged to develop support materials for a new venture, here are three tips:

  • Learn the landscape. Take the time to learn the environment in which the new venture will be operating. Research how it will fit with the history, attitudes and market that already exists, and how it can distinguish itself and enhance existing offerings.
  • Know the target audience. Success for a new venture rests on how well it engages its target audience. Put yourself in the shoes of that audience when developing materials, and ask three key questions: A. What does this audience want? B. In what form do they want it? C. How will it deliver value?
  • Pay special attention to detail. Nothing undermines a new venture like getting essential details wrong. If you’re developing a Texas history piece, know the difference between Texans and Texians and who the Tejanos were. Go the extra mile to educate yourself and become an authoritative source of information.