The Battleship of Texas Gets a Boost

Just because you visit a natural or historic site doesn't necessarily mean you come away with any real understanding or full appreciation of it. That's why the Texas legislature has pumped money into new interpretive exhibits at some state parks and historic sites. Rod Rice reports that one location is the Battleship Texas.
Texas will be getting a complete overhaul of the ship's interpretive, way finding and safety signs.

"We have 50 of those that we just proofed and will start producing and putting up in the next couple of months, which will help the visitor interact with the ship."

Andy Smith is the Ship Manager at Battleship Texas. He says most people aren't familiar with the kind of vessel it is and can't fully appreciate it without assistance.

"Examples are the five-inch guns, the Executive Office, our paravane, which a lot of people think is a torpedo. It's going to be really helpful to help the public interact. Some of the other projects going on are an interpretive display itself. Basically an area where they can come in and if they only see one thing they can get as much of the story of the battleship as we are able to give them."

This interpretive display process is a lot a more than putting up signs and plaques. Erin McClelland is an interpretive planner in Austin. She says the first step is to visit the site and talk with the staff.

"And we try to really assess what message we want to communicate to people and how best to deliver those."

At that point the research and writing phase begins.

"In the case of the Battleship Texas we actually hired a researcher in Washington DC and go into the national archives there and pull some photographers of the ship that we've never seen before. We were able to incorporate those into the project."

Then designers, either in-house or contracted, help come up with a compelling presentation.

Andy Smith says Battleship Texas could never have afforded the new exhibits without the extra funding because most of its regular budget goes toward maintenance.

"It's really nice that we're able to get some of this extra funding because the bulk of our funding goes go to just keep her from rusting away. So, it's really nice to have the added money to allow us to tell her story in a much better way."

Because the Battleship Texas is the only ship of it's kind that still exists it draws visitors from around the world.
Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...