• Bluebonnets at Pike Davis Ranch
  • Terry and the river
  • Fox at Pike Davis Ranch
    Photo by Matt Hicks
  • Pike Davis himself with friend Hiram Yost.

Cousins Howard Hicks and Bettie Green didn’t want their grandfather’s Hill Country ranch cut into subdivision lots and corner convenience stores.

“I had this real desire for it to continue to be a working ranch as long as possible, because I felt that what’s my granddad would have wanted,” says Green, now a grandparent herself. “We all wanted it to stay pretty much as it is.”

Hicks agrees. “It’s important to keep it where we could graze cattle on the land and make money from it. But our kids and grandkids have been coming here for years and have feelings for it and we also want to practice conservation.”

Their grandfather, Pike Davis, was one of five grandsons of Alfred Davis, who came to Texas in 1854. The earliest record of Davis owning land is in 1871, the cousins say. He accumulated an additional parcel, eventually owning 4,300 acres. Details are a bit sketchy; some records were lost when the Blanco County courthouse burned down, others when a tornado destroyed the family home in the 1920s.

“Ninety-five percent of land in Texas is privately owned, so the best chance at protecting land here is if private landowners lead the cause by electing to protect their own land in partnership with conservation organizations."

Over the years, pieces of the ranch were sold off. Today, it encompasses 1,415 acres of Llano Uplift in the Colorado River watershed, falling in both Blanco and Gillespie Counties. In 2008, Hicks, Green and other members of their extended family approached the Texas Land Conservancy (TLC), says executive director Mark Steinbach. The land conservation non-profit has been around since 1981 and preserved 108 properties totaling 80,000 acres around Texas.

“We completed a project with two adjacent properties in 2007, and the owner was so happy with the result that he recommended us to Howard Hicks,” says Steinbach. Hicks completed an easement on his individual property adjoining the Pike Davis Ranch in 2008. TLC staff spent the next four years meeting with the various owners and bringing everyone to agreement about how they wanted the preserve the ranch.

Together, these four properties protect 2,115 acres of Hill Country landscape, an area larger than Garner State Park and including frontage on the Pedernales River. It includes abundant native plants and natural habitat, water resources, and a lot of history. The latter means the most to Green. “Just to go around and say, my relatives walked here, that’s the most important thing to me.”

For TLC, one of the most important conservation values is the joining of the four properties. “It’s a tenfold outcome versus one piece of property,” Steinbach says. “Stitching together private lands in this way allows us to protect vast landscapes. With the price of land in the Hill Country, it’s nearly impossible to protect such large tracts without working in partnership with landowners.”

Conservation easements are a tool to help families with their long-term planning goals, he explains. Under a voluntary, negotiated agreement with TLC, the owners retain the right to build houses, within reason, and conduct other activities such as agriculture and hunting. “Easements protect the property from land fragmentation, and large-scale or intensive development,” Steinbach explains. “The landowner can pass it down to heirs, or sell it. The easement is perpetual and so runs with title of the land.” Tax benefits are the main takeaway for landowners, he adds. “By donating development rights to us, the owners can take a tax deduction of that value.”

Typically, the taxable value of the property is diminished by anywhere from 30 to 50 percent. “If the land is worth a million dollars, then perhaps $300,000 of that would be donated. With Hill Country land as valuable as it has become, that makes for a good enough incentive.” But even with tax benefits, the easement is not a money making strategy for landowners. Those who enter into an easement tend to have a conservation ethic in the first place.

“This will be the second centennial ranch, meaning one in the same family for more than a century, for us,” Steinbach adds. “It’s pretty significant that a family could hold land together for that amount of time, and now ensure that the next generation can hold the land. It’s a historically significant piece of property.”

The ranch will not be open to the public, which is the case with many conservation easements, but it will contribute to the public good, says TLC Outreach Coordinator Callie Thompson. “Ninety-five percent of land in Texas is privately owned, so the best chance at protecting land here is if private landowners lead the cause by electing to protect their own land in partnership with conservation organizations. Because Pike Davis will never become a shopping mall or parking lot, it will continue to be a public asset through its preservation of scenic views for everyone, protection of water quality, and conservation of native plant and animal species.”

Without the easement, the ranch most likely would be developed at some point. “Areas in Texas that are not under some kind of conservation easement, or that aren’t large properties that someone can afford to keep, are going to be developed,” Howard says.

Making the impossible possible: How to salvage your credit after a financialcrisis

credit talk

Bad things can happen to good people — unemployment, divorce, medical problems. It's life. If not tended to carefully, these bad things can result in more bills than you can pay and, in extreme situations, bankruptcy or foreclosure. While these events can devastate your credit score, it is possible to recover from a financial crisis and qualify for a mortgage.

Why so low?

First, let's review the guidelines for negative credit. Negative items placed on your credit report, like late payments and collections, stay there for seven years, ten years for a bankruptcy. A bankruptcy or foreclosure will also disqualify you for a mortgage for two to seven years. After a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you typically are ineligible for a government loan (FHA, VA, USDA) for two years and for a conventional loan for four years.

For a Chapter 11 bankruptcy two years must elapse from the discharge or dismissal date to qualify for a conventional loan. A foreclosure, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or short sale will sideline you for three years for government loans and two to seven years for conventional loans.

However, don't just focus on the waiting periods. A financial crisis can easily drop your credit score by 200 to 300 points. During the waiting period, it's important to reestablish credit, and this can be difficult as few creditors may be willing to extend it.

Getting back in good credit graces

To qualify for a mortgage, you typically need two to four active credit accounts with a history of at least 12 months. But what kind of credit can you get after a financial crisis? One option is a secured credit card. For this type of account, the creditor typically requires that you deposit money that acts as security if you fail to pay. If you have a relationship with a bank or credit union, inquire about a small personal loan.

Another possibility is an auto loan. Some creditors specialize in making auto loans to folks with damaged credit. Your interest rate may be higher, but an auto loan is a great way to establish a new, positive payment history.

It's important to keep in mind the purpose of these new accounts is not for the credit itself. Creditors are likely to offer you very low credit limits. Instead, you're doing this to improve your credit profile by creating a record of paying the accounts on time.

The added benefit of getting new credit accounts is that after a period of on-time payments, your credit score will improve. In fact, I have worked with customers who have experienced a bankruptcy who have raised their credit scores above 700 (a good credit score) during the waiting period by purposefully reestablishing credit.

To counsel or not to counsel?

Some folks seek credit counseling in response to a financial crisis. While this can be a responsible approach to getting your debts under control, please understand that it can affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage.

Credit counselors typically negotiate with your creditors to lower your payments, interest rates, and fees so that you can affordably pay off your debts. If you participate in a credit counseling payment program, you can qualify for an FHA mortgage after one year in the program with on-time payments. You also must receive permission from the credit counselor.

The appearance of credit counseling on your credit report does not affect your credit score. Instead, creditors may report that you're not paying your accounts as originally agreed, and that will depress your score. It's also true that many folks don't seek credit counseling until they've already hurt their scores by getting behind on their payments.

Don't ditch credit

After a financial crisis, some folks swear off credit. While this may seem financially responsible, it may make it impossible to qualify for a mortgage. (Most of us cannot afford to pay cash for our homes.)

Negative items stay on your credit report for seven to ten years. If you never add positive accounts to your credit profile, the credit bureaus only have the negative items for scoring, and your score will never recover. While we sometimes can qualify folks who have never used credit (no credit score), we never can qualify folks with low scores who have stopped using credit.

Next time, we'll look at our second factor for qualification — employment. Can you qualify if you recently changed jobs? Can you qualify after unemployment? We'll sift through all the rules. And, as always, leave me a comment if you have a special situation you want me to address.

  • JM Drygoods
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • JM Drygoods
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • JM Drygoods
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • JM Drygoods
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • JM Drygoods
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Spartan jewelry and sunglasses
    Photo by Jessica Pages

JM Drygoods joins Spartan to create "exciting and inspiring" South Lamarshopping destination

Moving in

West Texas moved South this weekend — South Lamar, that is.

Bows + Arrows owner Lauren Wilkins packed up and moved to Nashville, leaving available the highly coveted space that adjoins Spartan, which just so happens to be one of the most impeccably curated shops in Austin.

JM Drygoods (originally founded in Marfa, Texas and re-opened in Austin in November) stepped in to fill Bows + Arrows' void, officially making this small strip on South Lamar a lethal shopping destination for all things casual, funky-chic.

Currie Person, owner of Spartan, couldn't be more pleased with JM Drygoods' move next door.

"Michelle [Teague] opened JM Drygoods a little bit after Spartan opened, and I have always deeply admired her eye and her style — not to mention her humor and her intelligence," Person says.

"JM is bringing a lot of vibrant energy and gorgeous texture into the space. Michelle has an incredible eye for curating the very best pieces from her journeys in Mexico and elsewhere."

She credits the new partnership to "the gods of good timing" and took the opportunity to spruce up Spartan's interior while Teague moved JM in.

"We just tightened things up, created a feel that was more focused and edited, yet warm," she says. "It's still the same shop, just with some fresh touches."

Spartan and Bows + Arrows, a partnership born first and foremost out of friendship, shared what Person calls "a truly beautiful experience for the last four years," thus the bar for harmony and success is set very high.

However, "I could not possibly be more honored to share the space with such incredible folks," she says. "We are looking forward to an exciting and inspiring new adventure!"

Can I qualify? Tips from insiders on catching errors in your credit report andimproving your score

money talk

To state the obvious, your credit score has a big impact on your ability to qualify for a mortgage, and your score depends on what's on your credit report.

For that reason, it's important that you review your credit report regularly.

While a recent study reported the incidence of significant errors on reports is fairly small, our experience contradicts those results, and an error could prevent you from qualifying.

It's likely the study only identified items creditors were willing to correct. I find many reports have negative items creditors are just too pigheaded to correct.

Maybe the hospital and your insurance company are arguing about coverage for a procedure, and the hospital reported the bill to a collection company. Maybe you returned your cable box, but the cable company didn't note it on your account. Maybe your landlord said he was going to let you break your lease, then reneged after you left. The study didn't address these types of errors, and to find them, we need to look at credit repair.

You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion, Equifax) once a year. You can request your report online, by mail or phone. If you have the discipline, I recommend requesting the report from a different credit bureau every four months (you can request your report from only one bureau at a time), which gives you the best chance to catch something early. You're looking for two things: accounts that you didn't open and errors in reporting. The report doesn't include your FICO score, but that's not really important for the task at hand.

If you find an error, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) provides you with certain rights to help get it corrected. To better understand those rights, I spoke with a credit repair expert, Doug Buford of Better Life Credit. Buford said the most important part of FACTA is the word "accurate," and a lot of creditors don't report accounts accurately. If you identify inaccurate account information, the act requires that creditors remove it from your credit report.

Buford stressed that the creditors and bureaus are not allowed to change account information to make it accurate. Once you prove an account is inaccurate, "the credit bureaus have to notify the creditor that they can no longer sell that debt and that they have to eat it."

Buford said the bureaus are required to verify any account you dispute, and you can ask for the written documentation they used for verification. From the date a dispute letter hits a bureau's desk, it has 30 days to respond. If the dispute is resolved in your favor, it may take 45 days for the correction to show up on your credit report.

You can dispute accounts yourself, or you can use a credit repair professional. If you choose the do-it-yourself route, you can dispute the inaccurate account by mail, by phone, or online. Burford suggested that you always dispute by mail. With phone disputes, you don't have a record. Burford also said the online dispute systems operated by the credit bureaus have onerous "fine print" that states you cannot dispute the same account again.

When done by mail, you can dispute an account again if you have new information or documentation. You can find a number of resources on the Internet with instructions on how to write and file a dispute (including here, here, and here).

Disputing accounts is a lot of work and often requires multiple iterations with the credit bureaus. If you choose to use a credit repair service, the cost should be around $1,000, and the process may take six to nine months. Buford's claim for successfully removing negative accounts is similar to other credit repair services — in the 70 to 80 percent range.

One really lousy way to try to improve your credit score is disputing all negative accounts without supporting documentation. It is true that when you first dispute an account, the credit bureaus remove the account from the credit score calculation.

However, lenders have gotten wise to this trick. If a credit report contains disputed accounts, lenders typically will subject the loan application to extra scrutiny, including considering how the negative items could affect your ability or willingness to pay your mortgage. In some cases, the lender won't even consider the application.

Another lousy way is paying off old collections. Paying an old collection can hurt your score more than it helps. According to Buford, "once an account goes into collection, the credit bureau computer no longer looks at the dollar amount. It just says collection account, reduce score."

If you pay a $1,000 collection, the next month your credit report will show a balance of $0, but it will have no positive effect on your score. The computer doesn't care about the amount, but it does care about the date of last activity, which is going to be today. The more recent the activity on a collection account is, the greater its negative effect will be.

Sometimes you cannot remove negative items from your credit report, especially when you experience a financial crisis, like a bankruptcy.

Next week we'll talk about how to qualify for a mortgage after a financial crisis.

Qualifying without perfect credit: Steps you can take to make your scorestronger

money matters

Most of us don't have perfect credit. Fortunately it doesn't take perfect credit to qualify for a mortgage. This week we're going to look at factors that affect your credit score and how negative items on your credit report can affect your credit score.

Your credit score is a statistical calculation designed to reflect your likelihood to repay your debts. The developers of the FICO score haven't revealed the exact formula used to compute the score, but they have identified factors that affect your score. They also have provided the relative weights of these factors:

35%: Whether you pay your bills on time
30%: How much of your available credit you are using ("credit utilization")
15%: Age of your credit accounts
10%: Types of credit used
10%: Recent credit inquiries

Based on the list above, you can see that the most influential factor is paying your bills on time. The FICO creators performed a simulation last year to determine the effect of "failure to pay" on a credit score. While the effect depends on one's starting score, the simulation showed that paying your mortgage 30 days late can drop your score between 80 and 110 points. A foreclosure may drop your score up to 160 points, and a bankruptcy a whopping 240 points.

It is important to note that once a negative item appears on your credit report, it stays there for seven years, 10 years for a bankruptcy. However, over time, the effects of negative items wane. The time to recover depends on the significance of the negative mark. In the FICO simulation, researchers found it took 9 months to 3 years for your score to recover from a mortgage late payment.

Even if your score is okay, it's important to recognize that certain negative items may disqualify you for some loan programs. After a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you typically are ineligible for a government loan (FHA, VA, USDA) for two years and for a conventional loan for four years. For a Chapter 11 bankruptcy two years must elapse from the discharge or dismissal date to qualify for a conventional loan. A foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure will sideline you for three years for government loans and two to seven years for conventional loans.

It is important to note that once a negative item appears on your credit report, it stays there for seven years, 10 years for a bankruptcy.

These are extreme financial events. A more common negative item is a collection, and here the news is better. You generally can qualify for a conventional loan with outstanding collections as long as they don't affect the mortgage lender's rights. Collections on medical and utility bills usually fall in this category.

FHA recently changed its guidelines regarding collections. If you have collections totaling $1000 or more, you must pay them in full or have established a payment plan to qualify for an FHA loan. (This is a huge change from previous guidelines, and FHA seems to be backtracking a little. In fact, FHA just delayed implementation of the change until July 1st.)

Another common negative item is a late payment. I have fielded many a call from consumers concerned that they've done irreparable harm to their credit scores because they paid their car loan a couple days late. While you need to understand that a payment is late when not paid by the due date, creditors typically do not report accounts as late unless a payment is not received by the next due date. Thus, while forgetting to pay the credit card bill for a week will cost you a late fee, it probably won't ding your credit score.

A single late payment probably won't keep you from qualifying for a mortgage. However, if your credit report shows numerous recent late payments, you will find qualifying difficult. You generally will not be eligible for a conventional loan if your mortgage has been late by more than 60 days within the past year.

Government guidelines are a little more foregiving. However, multiple late payments on any accounts in the last year or a single payment that was late by 90 days or more may disqualify you.

This is a necessarily brief summary of the effects of negative items. If your credit report contains negative items, check with a mortgage professional to analyze your specific situation. Don't assume you won't qualify.

Note that the last factor in the list above is recent credit inquiries. Many consumers have expressed concern that this prevents them from shopping lenders for the best rate because each lender will make a credit inquiry. The FICO model anticipates this and ignores mortgage company inquiries for the 30 days prior to the report. Furthermore, for inquiries older than 30 days, the model treats them as one inquiry if they occurred within a "focused period of time, such as 45 days."

Next week we'll investigate ways you can improve your credit score based on an enlightening interview with a credit repair expert.

Thinking of settling down? Learn how your credit report affects your ability toqualify

home buying 101

A credit report is a history of your credit activities compiled by the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. It lists credit accounts that you have, such as mortgages, auto and student loans, plus credit cards, their balances and payment requirements. If you don't pay your bills, it can show actions taken against you as well as some public records, such as bankruptcies and tax liens. It also lists those who recently have obtained a copy of your credit report (called inquiries).

Just as important is what a credit report does not show. It does not show your income. It also does not reveal your assets, such as bank accounts and the address of real estate you own. It does not show your utility accounts and usually doesn't show rent payments. It does not contain any personal information other than your name, current and previous addresses, Social Security number, date of birth and current and previous employers.

That means it contains no information about your race, medical history, personal lifestyle or criminal record. Finally, the report only shows information that was reported to the credit bureaus. If a creditor doesn't report the information, it will not appear on your credit report.

The credit bureaus use your credit history to compute a "credit score." Most creditors using the FICO credit scoring model, thus the term "FICO score" is used synonymously with credit score. FICO scores range from 300 to 850 (higher being better), and each credit bureau computes its own version of your score. While the exact formula used to compute the scores is secret, the score's developers have identified the following factors:

Whether you pay your bills on time
How much of your available credit you are using ("credit utilization")
Age of your credit accounts
Types of credit used
Recent credit inquiries

(We will cover these factors more next week when we discuss qualifying without perfect credit.)

So, this begs the question — what FICO do you need to qualify for a mortgage? The answer can depend on the mortgage program you intend to use. However, we're seeing most lenders gravitate towards a minimum middle score of 620 to 640. (Middle means that of the three credit bureau scores, ignore the lower and higher.)

This link references a reasonably good list of available services and whether the services provide a FICO or FAKO score.

Interestingly, government loan programs allow for much lower credit scores (500 for FHA, no score minimum for VA), but lenders generally are not allowing these lower scores because lower scores typically correspond with greater risk of non-payment. Lenders fear the government will force them to buy back the loans if they default.

A word of caution about credit scores: many companies sell consumer credit scores, but rarely are these FICO model scores, which is the scoring model used to qualify you for a mortgage. In the industry we call them "FAKO" scores because they are not based on the FICO model. While these scores and the services through which they're offered can be useful for monitoring your credit, they rarely are indicative of your FICO score.

Many consumers have complained to us that the FAKO scores are much higher, leading them to believe they will qualify for a mortgage or a better interest rate. This link references a reasonably good list of available services and whether the services provide a FICO or FAKO score.

Credit reports can contain errors, but according to a recent study, the incidence of errors and the likelihood that they will affect your ability to qualify are fairly small. We will discuss correcting errors on your credit report in two weeks.

So what do you do if you don't have perfect credit? Next week we will cover steps you can take.

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Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas

Movie Review

For a studio whose entire reason for being seems to rely on creating and sustaining familiar characters, Walt Disney Animation takes its fair share of risks. In the last 10 years, it has released nine films, seven of which were not based on pre-existing properties (the other two were sequels for two of those seven). That’s a lot of new stuff, most of which has succeeded mightily for the perennially-popular leaders in animation.

They’re at it again with Strange World, which takes place in an unknown country/world known as Avalonia, where Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a famous explorer whose only desire is to find a way over, around, or through the imposing mountains surrounding the land. His son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), doesn’t share his enthusiasm, and an early discovery by Searcher of a unique energy source leads to a rift between father and son. Jaeger continues onwards, while Searcher returns home with a plant they call Pando that creates harmony throughout the land.

Years later, when the plant shows signs of failure, Searcher is recruited by Avalonia leader Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to help in an expedition to find the source of whatever is attacking Pando. What they and others – including Searcher’s wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) – find in their travels certainly lives up to the title.

Co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen and written by Nguyen, the film is a visual stunner. The quality of animation in Disney movies rarely fails to impress, and Strange World is the latest and greatest example. Whether it’s the humans, the landscape, or the innumerable weird creatures that populate the film, there is almost nothing that doesn’t deserve to be stared at and admired.

It’s odd, then, that the story does not come close to matching the graphics. There are a variety of reasons for this failure. Nguyen is the sole credited writer, and he stuffs the film full of big and small ideas, probably too many for this type of project. Searcher’s family and the world of Avalonia and beyond are diverse in multiple ways, to the point that it feels like Nguyen was trying to include everything he could think of in case he never got another shot.

The bigger sin, though, is how quickly the film advances through its plot, often bringing up new things out of nowhere. While Searcher and his family make for an interesting group, the side characters never make an impact. There are also multiple instances where the story takes a turn that makes no sense, either in the world of the film or a storytelling manner.

This includes the final act of the film, which features a significant twist that is presented and accepted in a way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It adds on yet another message in a movie that contains a lot of them, but in a way that even those inclined to believe in what it’s trying to say may wonder why that part is there at all.

The science fiction element of Strange World is a bonanza for the filmmakers and animators to go as wild as they wanted in the visual department. But all that splendor is in service of a story that just doesn’t measure up, making it one of Disney’s less successful offerings in recent years.


Strange World is now playing in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World

Austin leaders and Sims Foundation band together for 'Safer Together' benefit show

Perform and prepare

Austin is certainly proud of its music scene, but the music industry requires more care than it gets in many areas. One public health issue it disproportionately faces, both in the Live Music Capital and anywhere else, is one of the hardest to address: overdose deaths.

Due to stigma and underestimating the danger of seemingly known substances, it can be difficult to get through to individuals at risk for a preventable drug death, especially from a place of authority like the Travis County District Attorney. The Sims Foundation, Austin’s leading group for protecting mental health within the music industry, is leveraging its reach to rejoin D.A. José Garza’s office in producing the second annual “Safer Together: Overdose Prevention & Harm Reduction Saves Lives,” a free benefit concert raising both awareness and funds for the foundation.

“Safer Together,” also in collaboration with the Red River Cultural District (RRCD), is returning on Thursday, December 1 at Mohawk, where six local acts join the cause on one bill. (In 2021, the concerts were spread between Mohawk, the Green Jay, and Empire Control Room.) Night Drive, Trouble in the Streets, and Holy Wire will play outside, while The Pinky Rings, Hotmom, and Sad Cell play inside. Garza will also be at the venue to give opening remarks.

“Together as leaders, community-based health experts, musicians, venue owners, and small businesses who have been touched by this crisis we hope events like ‘Safer Together’ open conversations and action towards removing the stigmas and creating a pathway for change,” said RRCD’s interim executive director Nicole Klepadlo. “We're proud to work alongside our partners, appreciate our musicians and venue hosts, and encourage our community to donate to this important cause.”

In 2021, Travis County dealt with more than 300 overdose deaths, up more than 25% from two years before. It looks like 2022 is following the same trajectory, or perhaps a worse one. The county “saw overdose deaths double in the first six months of 2022 alone compared with 2021,” according to a release.

“We must continue to treat substance abuse disorder as the public health issue it is in order to prevent overdose-related deaths and keep our community safe,” said Garza in a release. “This includes community-based strategies and campaigns that increase public awareness and connect our most vulnerable communities with life-saving resources. We look forward to partnering with local leaders and non-profits to save lives in our community.”

In addition to its broader efforts in mental health, the Sims Foundation offers solutions in both addiction treatment and overdose prevention. These span counseling, vigorous medical treatment like detoxes and outpatient programs, and venue training including instruction on using naloxone to temporarily reverse an overdose. The latter training is offered with guidance from Communities for Recovery, and the Sims Foundation’s goal for funds raised is to provide more of these in the near future.

Donations will be accepted at the door (8 pm), and 100% of proceeds will be donated to the Sims Foundation. Fans at home can text SIMS to 44321 or visit simsfoundation.org to make a donation before the show.

Renovated UT Austin museum set to reopen in 2023 with exciting new exhibits

Texas Memorial Museum

One of Austin's oldest museums is getting a major facelift. Built on campus at the University of Texas at Austin in the 1930s, the Texas Memorial Museum has offered the Austin community (and beyond) unique opportunities to explore and learn about the natural world, including scientific discoveries made right here in Texas.

According to a release, UT and its College of Natural Sciences will renovate and upgrade the beloved museum in order to serve future generations. Earlier this year, President Jay Hartzell and Dean Vanden Bout appointed a volunteer advisory committee to help create short- and long-term recommendations for the museum’s reopening and greater outlook for the future. Fundraising efforts are ongoing to support future stages of the museum’s reopening, as well as new installations planned for its fourth floor.

Thanks to that committee, this new investment will be the museum's most extensive renovation in decades, including building upgrades such as roof repairs, revitalization of foundational exhibits, installation of new exhibits and features, and improvements to allow hosted events.

“Texas Memorial Museum is the only museum on the UT campus, and in the greater Austin area, that will include both science and natural history exhibits, from prehistoric life to advanced research and technology,” said managing director Carolyn Connerat in the release. “We are grateful to the university and excited about reopening this cherished institution, which will be even better than before.”

The museum temporarily closed earlier this year and is set to reopen in stages beginning in fall 2023. Starting in September 2023, visitors will have opportunities to revisit cherished exhibits, such as the famous Quetzalcoatlus (a type of pterosaur), and experience new engaging exhibits and educational programming for all ages.

“Showcasing science and offering the community opportunities to learn about new research is something this museum is uniquely positioned to help us do,” said David Vanden Bout, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, in the release. “These renovations are part of a larger effort to bridge between past discoveries and future innovations. Having a museum of science and natural history allows our campus to offer Texans a valuable portal into what’s wondrous about our natural world.”