One of the things that continues to amaze me is the amount of detailed work that goes into starting a museum. The staff at Villa Finale collectively has 50 years of museum experience – an average of 10 years each. We’ve all worked in museums where we wish something had been done differently in the past – the collections cataloged properly, family interviews done, or good documentation of original building conditions, for example. What excites us all is the idea that we get to do this right, right from the start!
This really struck me again last week when our landscape consultant was here to do research. She’s putting together what’s called a Cultural Landscape Report, which fully describes the history of a landscape, the context behind it, and makes recommendations for its presentation and interpretation to the public. Cindy was doing research at places as varied as the Institute of Texan Cultures, the San Antonio Conservation Society, and even the San Antonio River Authority. Villa Finale is on the banks of the river and they had some documentation on the Riverwalk extension in the 1980s. In addition to the research, Cindy interviewed some of Mr. Mathis’s friends and family to get a better idea of the progression of the landscape design. With her recommendations, we are able to determine what Mr. Mathis planted and when, and what plants are “volunteers” and can be removed. We’ll begin implementing her recommendations this fall. In the meantime, take a look at these pictures. Look how much the landscape has changed!