UTPA hosts El Río Smithsonian exhibition
Posted: 07/31/2003
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The University of Texas-Pan American will be the first of six sites in the U.S. and Mexico to host El Río - a Smithsonian binational traveling exhibition celebrating the cultural heritage of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo basin - from August 4 to December 13. The exhibition is being housed on the third floor of the Science Building on the UTPA campus.

"We are honored to host this educational exhibit and we invite everyone to come see the colorful heritage and history of South Texas come to life," said UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez.

The exhibition is divided into three interrelated themes focusing on cultural identity, traditional knowledge and sustainable development. It pays special tribute to the Rio Grande Valley's contribution to the culture and history of the United States and Mexico.

El Río visitors will have hands on experiences with exhibition displays including a Gulf of Mexico shrimp boat.
"The exhibit focuses on this river basin that extends from the mountains of Colorado through the rugged landscapes of New Mexico and Texas into Northern Mexico and on the relationship between people who live there and their environment," said El Río co-curator Olivia Cadaval of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

El Río features 17 vignettes, each telling a distinct story about the relationship between people and environment in their particular region. Bilingual signs and text panels are highlighted by quotes from people in the region along with six video components. Visitors will have a hands-on experience in "micro-communities" featuring shrimpers, ranchers, sheepherders, cowboys, adobe builders and piñata makers.

Through the stories of the communities and the people of the region, the Smithsonian El Río exhibition explores the relationship between traditional knowledge, local culture and a sustainable environment in the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo basin.
Over the next five years El Río will travel to more than half a dozen cities and towns, including El Paso, San Antonio, Albuquerque, N.M., Monterrey, Chihuahua and Nuevo Laredo in Mexico.

The exhibit will be free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (to 7 p.m. on Wednesday) and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The exhibition will be closed Sundays and all holidays during its six month run.

All visitors are encouraged to contact the UTPA Visitors Center at 956/381-UTPA (8872) to schedule a group tour or to obtain parking information. The Visitors Center, which is located at the main entrance to the UTPA campus on University Drive, contains an introductory portion to the exhibition. Student guides will provide directions to the main exhibition area in the Science Building.