Destination Spotlight – Bayer Museum of Agriculture
When it comes to history and heritage, Lubbock offers up a variety of options for those visiting to become enthralled with the culture of West Texas. The Bayer Museum of Agriculture does just that. This Lubbock gem shares the inspiring story of how agriculture revolutionized the home of Buddy Holly and the surrounding counties, making West Texas the leading region for cotton production today. We caught up with Lacee Hoelting, executive director for the Bayer Museum of Agriculture, to ask a few questions about the historical place.
1. What is the history of the Bayer Museum of Agriculture, and what is the facility like today?
Our museum started out as the “Lubbock County Historical Collection” in 1969 and was overseen by Alton Brazell, who was a county commissioner at the time. Thousands of pieces of farm machinery artifacts have grown into a one-of-a-kind agricultural museum that shows visitors the past, present and future of the agriculture industry on which this area was founded. Our facility today has more than 37, 000 square feet of exhibit space and 4,900 square feet of rentable meeting space, including a catering kitchen and a large patio overlooking the downtown Lubbock skyline.
2. What makes the museum unique?
Besides an impressive collection of tractors, implements, toys and household items, we’ve worked hard to incorporate interactive exhibits throughout the facility. You can meet a blacksmith in our 1920s shop, drive a cotton stripper in our Cotton Harvest Experience, watch a film or test your knowledge of major crops in our Harvesting the Facts exhibits.
3. Talk more about meetings and events that the museum is able to host?
In 2009, MWM Architects of Lubbock were contracted to develop a master plan, site plan and building plan for the museum’s new facility. In April of 2011, Lee Lewis Construction broke ground on Phase I of the new facility. Phase II, which includes the main exhibit hall, Plains Cotton Growers Conference Center, a catering kitchen and outdoor patio, was completed in April of 2014. The conference center has been a popular and beautiful venue for local civic groups, conventions, weddings and other gatherings, hosting more than 25,000 people since opening. The Plains Cotton Growers Conference Center can hold up to 300 people, and the Alton Brazell Exhibit Hall can hold up to 60 people. Each space includes tables and chairs as well as audio/visual equipment. The Bayer Museum of Agriculture is the perfect space to host events of any size while giving attendees a taste of Lubbock’s agricultural industry.
4. Why is this a must-see for visitors to Lubbock?
It was primarily agriculture that transformed Lubbock from a small ranch trade village to a thriving metropolis of more than 250,000 people. Agriculture made Lubbock and the surrounding area the leading region for cotton production in the nation. Unless you are hungry and naked, you are involved in agriculture. It’s important for adults and children to understand where our food and fiber come from and to understand the struggles faced by early pioneer farm families. This is a one-of-a-kind museum unlike anything else anyone will ever encounter.
5. What sets the museum apart from other attractions?
It’s the combination of history and modern technology. This museum does not host a random collection of artifacts. The exhibits help demonstrate why agriculture is a part of our daily lives. Older visitors will reminisce about times spent on the farm as they peruse horse-drawn implements and antique tractors, while their grandchildren watch videos and interact with games and holograms of historic figures. There is something for everyone to see and enjoy at the Bayer Museum of Agriculture.
6. What are the important annual events that people should know about?
Our annual fundraiser, A Night for the Museum, will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 25 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center and will feature keynote speaker, Orion Samuelson. Samuelson is an American broadcaster, and he is most widely known for hosting U.S. Farm Report. The Annual Antique Tractor and Engine Show will take place the third weekend in October, which this year falls on Saturday, Oct. 17. There are a host of events throughout the year for both members and the general public. Check out our calendar at www.agriculturehistory.org.
7. Is there anything coming up in the future for the museum?
We recently opened a new exhibit, Irrigation: An Underground Story sponsored by Simmons Pumps. This exhibit takes a closer look at aquifers and the history of how farmers have watered their crops. Visitors should also be on the lookout for some rotating exhibits taking place in the fall and winter of 2015, and become an annual member to know what’s happening first.
8. Anything else you’d like to add:
The Bayer Museum of Agriculture is independent. The city or the county does not support us financially. We are funded through donations, admission fees, memberships and grants received. We hope you come visit us, tell your friends about your visit and enjoy your time so much that you make the decision to become an annual member. We’re open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours outside of regular hours are available upon request.
Bayer Museum of Agriculture Fast Facts:
- Location: 1121 Canyon Lake Drive
- Phone: 806.744.3786
- Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Website: agriculturehistory.org