The Corpus Christi Museum, accredited by the American Association of Museums, is a general museum with collections and exhibits in natural history, art, and history. Mixed with traditional permanent exhibits are touch tables, live animal displays, and changing exhibits of local artworks. Museum programs such as treasure hunts and fact hunts, Saturday matinee movies, and public performances on the Front Porch Stage encourage community involvement. The museum was founded as a junior museum in 1956 by schoolteachers from the Corpus Christi Independent School District as a private institution. It became a department of the city of Corpus Christi in 1967. That same year, the museum moved into a 25,000-square-foot facility at the current site in the Bayfront Arts and Sciences Park, and in 1972, 28,000 square feet of space was added. Although the museum is principally funded by the city of Corpus Christi with an annual contribution from the Corpus Christi Independent School District, private support is provided by the Friends of the Corpus Christi Museum and the Corpus Christi Museum Auxiliary. Volunteers from the auxiliary contribute their time to support various functions of the museum. The Junior League offers a puppet program at the museum, and Coastal Bend Archeological Society volunteers work with the museum staff on field projects. The educational programs of the museum include a fourth-grade science program developed cooperatively with the Corpus Christi Independent School District and a variety of exhibit-based programs offered to school groups. The museum offers annual summer classes for elementary schoolchildren and archeology field projects for high school students and adults.
Significant science collections include the Jones Herbarium (flora of the Texas Coastal Bend), the Andrews Collection (shells and shores of Texas), the Kirn and Quillen Bird Egg and Nest collections, the R. D. Camp Collection of Non-marine Shells, and the Carl Young Collection of Marine Shells. Also included in the science collections is a great variety of natural history specimens. The history and anthropology collections include prehistoric Indian artifacts, the artifacts from the Padre Island Spanish shipwrecks of 1554, and a wide variety of historical artifacts donated by the residents of South Texas. The art collection includes the Kenedy Collection of largely nineteenth-century oil paintings by European School painters and the works of contemporary Coastal Bend artists. The museum has a 10,000-volume library for research on its collections and an archive that includes the "Doc" McGregor Photograph Collection. The museum maintains exhibit areas devoted to geology, marine life, mammals, birds, prehistoric and historic archeology, anthropology, decorative and fine arts, and historical topics, including Naval Aviation in South Texas. The Friends of the Museum publishes a monthly periodical, Museum Notes, and a series of Occasional Papers on topics of interest to the museum. They also support research projects undertaken as part of the function of the museum.