Texas Memorial Museum opens
On this day in 1939, the Texas Memorial Museum opened on the University of Texas campus in Austin. The museum was established as part of the Texas Centennial Celebration Bill of 1935, in which funds amounting to $225,000 were allocated for "gathering and preparing materials for exhibits of natural and civic history ... and for furnishing and equipping the Texas Memorial Museum." The museum's opening came just a few months after the death of UT anthropology professor James E. Pearce, who had been advocating the establishment of such an institution since 1920. Ownership of the Texas Memorial Museum was transferred in 1959 from the state to the University of Texas at Austin. The museum, which reopened in January 2004 following a major renovation, attracts about 65,000 visitors a year. Exhibits are based on the museum's more than five million specimens, primarily collected and researched by UT scientists and students. Among the most popular exhibits is the remains of a pterosaur, the largest flying creature ever found, with a forty-foot wingspan.