Fiesta® Medal Mania
Institute of Texan Cultures returns to Fiesta® with a new exhibit
SAN ANTONIO – Tall tales abound where San Antonio customs are concerned. Local lore has it, the ubiquitous Fiesta medal tradition started in 1971, when King Antonio XLIX, Charles Orsinger, punched holes into 200 royal coins, strung them with ribbon, and handed them out at Fiesta events.
Some stories suggest the tradition started much earlier, possibly in the 1960s. Others insist the trinkets were not a true Fiesta® must-have until the mid-2000s. Whatever the true origin of Fiesta® Medals, the tradition has become an integral part of the weeklong festivities.
To get San Antonio in the Fiesta® mood, the Institute of Texan Cultures is opening "Fiesta® Medal Mania!" on March 25 "We are attempting to gather the largest, most comprehensive collection of Fiesta medals San Antonio has ever seen," said Diana Luis, curatorial researcher at the ITC. "Visitors will be awestruck by the variety of medals – the number of organizations that produce them, the different styles, and the many designers who’ve had a hand in capturing the spirit of this annual celebration."
Fiesta® Medal Mania! was carried out with the assistance of the Fiesta® Commission, which either loaned medals to the museum or directed the museum to event representatives and private collectors to acquire medals for the display.
The medals will be shown on the entryway wall leading to the neon Texas flag. Giant, colorful sashes will drape the wall from floor to ceiling, festooned with the Fiesta® collectables. For a closer look at each medal, guests can use an interactive kiosk to sort through the designs produced year-by-year. Fiesta® royalty, event representatives and Fiesta® lovers are invited to contribute 2013 medals to the collection.
Medals from past and present will be available in the museum store. The Fiesta Heavy Medal weigh-in will be hosted at the museum on April 29 to document the person who amassed the largest medal collection over Fiesta’s 10 days.
A student exhibit, "Fiesta Medals: The Next Generation," will show concurrently with Medal Mania. The museum challenged Edgewood School of the Fine Arts students to envision the medals of Fiesta 10 years, 20 years and further into the future.
"This is something special for San Antonians who celebrate Fiesta every year and invest their memories and emotions in these small tokens," said Luis. "This tradition is so amazing because it’s universally appealing. Medals can have special meaning to the average citizen and can capture the diverse spirit of our city’s celebration in a way that everyone can appreciate."
Fiesta® Medal Mania! continues through July 8. The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit TexanCultures.com.