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Aalbert Heine & Corpus Christi Science and History Museum Collection

 Collection
Identifier: Coll -248
This collection spans 148 years and two continents and does have some World War II era Nazi and Netherlands documents. However, it mostly centers on Aalbert Heine after he moved to Corpus Christi in 1957 to become the Corpus Christi Junior Museum Director. While it contains an eclectic amount of his background work in promoting the museum and learning, Heine traveled frequently and kept detailed travelogues often with details and sketches of other museums he visited and how what he saw could be incorporated to improve the Corpus Christi Museum. Heine and the Corpus Christi Science and History Museum are nearly inseparable from each other as he used his personality and philosophies to build the institution from the ground up.

Dates

  • Majority of material found within 1841 - 1989

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

This material is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to taking precautions against infringement of copyright and respecting the publication rights of reproduced materials. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards. Any materials used should be fully credited with their source according to the example given in the Preferred Citation note. Requests for assistance with citations and images of publication quality should be directed to specialcollections@tamucc.edu

Extent

12.25 Linear Feet

Overview

Aalbert Heine was the Director of the Corpus Christi Museum for 27 years and a relentless advocate for using museums to teach with hands on learning, at a time when most museums had their artifacts hidden behind glass. Heine wrote reems of materials on how museums should function and traveled the world visiting other museums for ideas on how he could improve his own. He took a small cities Junior Museum and turned it into one of the best in the state, and this collection spans the time he was doing it, and what he had to do to get it done.

Biographical / Historical

Aalbert Heine was born in The Hauge, Netherlands in 1920. He was attending the Polytechnical School in Delft when Nazi Germany attacked in May of 1940. After the Germans sized control of the Netherlands, his college was one of the few that remained open. He graduated in 1942 with degrees in chemistry and geology. Heine moved frequently to avoid the Germans but was eventually caught buying black market ration books. He escaped the death penalty in Germany’s highest court and was eventually put on a train to a concentration camp. While the train was stopped to allow troop trains to pass, Heine blended into a group of Germans that had been asked to step out of line. He was eventually found out, but there were not enough troops to escort him to the camp, so he was put to work digging up unexploded bombs. On one particular day 30 of the 45 diggers were killed in explosions. On April 10, 1945, the prison he was in was liberated. Heine stayed with the American Army for six months as an interpreter to show his gratitude before going home to the Netherlands.

In 1951, Heine moved to New York and became a lecturer at the American Museum of Natural History. In 1957 he accepted the position of director at the Corpus Christi Junior Museum and relocated to South Texas. In letters he wrote fondly of how nice everyone was in Texas compared to the fast-paced streets of New York. Heine set about creating the museum of his dreams; a museum where displays and artifacts were interactive and could be touched instead of relegated to dusty shelves behind glass. Eventually he was able to have an entire new museum built that encompassed his ideals of functioning as not just a place for artifacts, but as an education center.

The Junior Museum would later be renamed the Corpus Christi Museum, then eventually changed to the Corpus Christi Science and History Museum. Heine was so deeply involved in developing and promoting the museum that he often seems inseparable from it. It is hard to imagine it would have grown into the institution it is now without the relentless might of his advocacy for teaching, his own lifelong learning, and his passionate belief in building a museum that outclassed museums in bigger, wealthier cities. He overcame much to become that role model.

Arrangement

This collection consists of 24 series with 124 subseries. The series are: Biographical, Operations, Writings, Publications, Museum Newsletters, Museum Programs, Museum Promotional Material, Correspondence, Newspapers, Conferences and Retreats, Research Materials, Certificates, Corpus Christi Civic Promotional, American Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Items, Paper-Making, Other Travel, Photographs, Scrapbooks, Pocket Notebooks Cassette Tapes, Framed Awards, Cigar Bands, and Stamp Collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Aalbert Heine’s daughter, Marianne Heine Baldeschwiler over the course of several years. The original donation took place 2017-03-07, with more coming in on 2017-10-11, and the stamp collection being donated on 2020-03-05.

Related Materials

Art Museum of South Texas Record Group

Processing Information

This collection was arranged by Eric Christensen, Archive Processing Librarian for Texas A&M University– Corpus Christi’s Special Collections & Archives Department.