Museum of the Coastal Bend

Museum of the Coastal Bend

SUNKEN HISTORY… Shipwrecks of the Gulf Coast
On exhibit now!

Explore the technology of ships that sailed the Gulf of Mexico for purposes of exploration, trade, and war. Discover how archaeologists recover shipwrecks and their cargo. This temporary exhibit includes artifacts, documents, drawings, and photographs from The Wreck of the 300 (1554), Emanuel Point (1559), La Belle (1686), USS Hatteras (1863), U-166 (1942), and many others.


Located on the Victoria College Campus, this museum showcases the region’s rich multicultural heritage. The permanent exhibit, Where Texas History Began, tells the story of 13,000 years of heritage in the Texas Coastal Bend. The life of indigenous people and struggles of European colonists are illustrated with artifacts discovered during regional archaeological excavations. Exhibits include artifacts and information about early Spanish Colonial mission and presidio sites; the French colony Fort St. Louis, the first European settlement in Texas, along with items recovered from the Belle, a French shipwreck; Buckeye Knoll, one of the three oldest prehistoric cemeteries in the U.S.; and the science involved in the recovery of these national treasures.

Where Texas History Began

Our permanent exhibit displays the last 13,000 years of Texas history, from the first inhabitants of the Coastal Bend region through the French, Spanish, and Mexican colonial efforts, up to the range of diverse influence that have created the modern Texan culture.

Some of the highlights of the exhibit include:

Early Inhabitants of the Coastal Bend
When the Egyptian pyramids were being built, people had already been living in the Coastal Bend for more than eight thousand years. When people moved to the Coastal Bend, no one on the planet had agriculture. Come explore the long and rich history of people in the Coastal Bend, including one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States. Learn about sites worked on by the museum’s research team that are continuing to expand our knowledge about human life in the area.

Fort St. Louis and Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
The Museum of the Coastal Bend’s Fort St. Louis exhibition explores several subjects relating to the first French settlement in Victoria County and the first European settlement in Texas. From French explorer La Salle’s early expeditions to life at Fort St. Louis and the archaeological research on these subjects, each segment of this amazing story is told through informative scholarly written text panels, photographic images, and original artifacts found at the site.

The Cannons
The centerpiece exhibit in the Museum’s gallery is the exhibit of seven of the eight cannons brought to Texas by French explorer La Salle. The eighth cannon is on exhibit at the State History Museum in Austin. The Fort St. Louis cannons are the focal point of MCB’s exhibits.

La Belle Artifacts
Artifacts recovered from La Salle’s ship La Belle which sank in nearby Matagorda Bay, including munitions and personal items from the explorers.

Spanish Colonial Artifacts, featuring the James Woodrick Collection

La Salle’s French settlement was viewed as a threat by the Spanish, who almost immediately began to settle Texas, forming the unique Hispanic culture South Texas enjoys today. See objects from this early Spanish period, including swords, jewelry, and even a pot for making hot chocolate!


MCB is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Old Victoria Driving Tour Self-Guided Tour Map
Order a free Old Victoria Driving Tour self-guided tour map, or stop by the Explore Victoria Visitor Center to pick one up!