Ask first-time visitors about their experience at the Alamo, and you're likely to hear a frequent refrain. Guests accustomed to hearing about the mission's heroic history are surprised that the grounds are so small. But that's slowly changing with ambitious plans to bring the site's original footprint back to life.
Starting May 25, visitors will get a sneak peek at the complex's newest structure, the Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit, before it officially opens in 2024. Funded in part by a $3 million donation from the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation, the exhibition gives guests a broader understanding of the Alamo's scale.
The historical recreation was crafted by lauded San Antonio artist Carlos Cortés. A third-generation concrete faux bois artisan, his work is featured throughout the city, most notably on the River Walk, where his fantastical The Grotto greets thousands of Museum Reach visitors each year.
The life-size sculpture stands in for the original main gate of the fort at the southern boundary of the complex. Cannons and placards scattered throughout give crucial context to the structure. Though early renderings show the beams and spiked fence with more verisimilitude, the forms currently stand in ghostly concrete — inviting quiet contemplation.
When the exhibit is finished next year, guests will be more fully immersed in the hallowed grounds, which extend far beyond the walls of the iconic Church and Long Barrack. Coupled with the upcoming Alamo Visitor Center and Museum and the recently debuted Ralston Family Collections Center, it will turn the grounds into one of Texas' most awe-inspiring historical sites.
"We are deeply grateful to the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation for their support of the Alamo and our ongoing efforts to preserve this important piece of Texas history," said Dr. Kate Rogers, Executive Director of the Alamo Trust, Inc., via a release. "Their generosity will allow us to continue to educate and inspire visitors from around the world, ensuring that the legacy of the Alamo lives on for generations to come."