Street Address
641 East Madison Street
Brownsville, TX 78520
Mailing Address
P.O. Box 4337
Brownsville, TX 78523
phone: 210-548-1313
fax: 210-548-1391
Museum Type(s)


Historic Brownsville Museum Association in Brownsville, TX is one of more than 15,400 museums in the MuseumsUSA directory. Find an exciting museum to visit where you live or vacation today.


The Historic Brownsville Museum Association was established in 1982 for the purpose of increasing and disseminating knowledge and appreciation of history. To that end, it established and currently maintains a museum and reference library to collect and preserve objects of historical interest, to protect historical sites from needless destruction, to provide facilities for research and publication, and to offer popular instruction and opportunities for aesthetic enjoyment.

Since the association organized in 1982, the picturesque Spanish Colonial Revival passenger depot, formerly used by the Southern Pacific Railroad before being abandoned and allowed to deteriorate, has been fully restored for use as a museum. The museum opened to the public in 1986. A new education complex was constructed and opened in the fall of 1991. The structure complements the existing architecture and adjoins the museum. The building serves as a site for educational programs, both adult and student, circulating exhibits, and community functions. A courtyard was recently completed between the two buildings using inscribed brick and stone pavers, and native foliage. A masonry fence was built along the Sixth Street side while travelers on Seventh Street will see the restored Rio Grande Railroad engine through a wrought iron fence.

Currently, the museum is working closely with personnel from the National Parks Service on the establishment of the Palo Alto Battlefield Historic Site, and is contributing to the recognition of the Palmito Ranch (Last Battle of the Civil War) Battlefield Site as a National Historical Landmark. The museum also provides assistance to the Brownsville Heritage Trail Committee.

Artifacts Collections

There are eight primary collections at the Historic Brownsville Museum. They are listed below in order of importance.

1. Military history.

a. Mexican /American War - 1846-1848.

This war responsible for city's existence

Construction of original fort - site adjacent to Rio Grande

local battle sites - Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma

b. Local involvement in the Civil War

Both federal and confederate troops in charge of Fort Brown during war

Battle of Palmito Ranch - last battle of war, fought approximately 12 miles east of the city

c. Border unrest - 1913-1917

d. General history of Fort Brown from 1846 to closing in 1948

2. Restored Engine No. 1 from the Rio Grande Railroad Company. This is (possibly) the last wood-burning, narrow gauge locomotive of its class in the world. The Rio Grande Railroad Company began operations in 1872 with a route from Brownsville to Point Isabel and carried both freight and passengers.

3. Runyon Collection - Robert Runyon was a local photographer and civic leader in the early part of the 1900s. His work included portraits of prominent citizens, history-making events, such as the battle for Matamoros, Mexico, in 1913, and postcards made from his photographs of the area, including Fort Brown. Runyon was also an amateur botanist and collected two specimens from each tree native to the valley in 1936. One set became part of the Texas Centennial celebration in Austin and is now at The Center for American History at University of Texas at Austin. The other set is at the museum.

4. Religious life

a. Catholicism - the first nuns from the French Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament arri

Research Collections

The museum's archives have several newspapers from the 19th century, a number of property deeds from the early part of the 1900s, and a limited number of reference books. These may be used for research.

Educational Programs

The Historic Brownsville Museum provides the following educational activities: 1. Guided tours - school groups provided with activity folders, bookmarks, and Certificates of Appreciation.; 2. Saturday Academies for school groups; 3. Sunday Afternoon Programs; 4. Teacher Workshops; 5. School or Civic Group Programs


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