16 Aug

January 21 – The Invention of the Integrated Circuit

Ever heard of Moore’s Law? It states that the number of circuit components on a computer chip will double every one to two years, and it’s held up since 1965. Where did this process begin? In Texas, of course! (Well, maybe in California, too) Join us and Dr. Chris Mack for a look at the origins of the information age.

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15 Aug

November 19 – Julian Read on JFK’s Final Hours

Julian Read, a Texas political insider who delivered the first eyewitness account of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination to the media, is the author of a behind-the-¬scenes account that chronicles the tragedy and its fifty-year legacy. In JFK’s Final Hours in Texas, Read documents not only the immediate agony endured by the people in the epicenter of the tragedy but also the continuing experience of a wounded community recovering from its aftermath.

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15 Aug

October 15 – Bill Minutaglio on the Dallas that was in 1963

While many authors have made it their work to explain the Kennedy assassination, Minutaglio, co-author of Dallas 1963, offers us a glimpse into the swirling political forces that led many people to warn President Kennedy to avoid Dallas on his fateful trip to Texas. In so doing, he presents not only a fresh look at a momentous national tragedy but a sobering reminder of how radical, polarizing ideologies can poison a city–and a nation.

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15 Aug

October 1 – Selfies on Paper: Pinhole Cameras

Sunday Funday's History Lab takes a look at

The (New and Improved!) Pinhole Camera

Sunday, October 1st, 1PM to 4PM – FREE

If you’re a 21st century person, chances are good that you take pictures (and send them at the touch of a button) all of the time. More than 2 out of 3 American adults own a smartphone, nearly twice as many people as did 5 years ago. Ask yourself how many days it’s been since you last snapped a selfie, took a picture of what you ate for dinner, or took a candid shot of a kid doing something entirely adorable.

You didn’t do any of those things with a device that only functions as a camera. You didn’t have to wait to see what the picture would look like or pay someone to develop it for you. You may have never seen a photometer or a recipe for developer. It all happens inside a device that weighs about one quarter of a pound and responds to your touch. Mysterious, huh?

Here in the lab, we decided that it was time we went back and looked at where photography came from. Photography used to be a physical, chemical process involving some guess-work, some experience, and some (often clunky) specialized equipment. If you haven’t had to take a picture without being able to see the image or assess its quality beforehand, you haven’t taken a photograph like a 19th- or early 20th-century person. This month, we’ll help you recreate this experience–and show you that it’s easier than you think, too!

What is a pinhole camera?

Good quality photographs do not require lenses! (The three photographs above were all taken with pinhole cameras) Any light-tight vessel with a single tiny hole (.015″ – about the thickness of a kitchen trash bag) can capture an image on photographic paper. The hole works like a lens, focusing the light reflected by objects in front of the camera into a clear picture. It takes 2-30 minutes to capture a photograph this way, mostly because so little light can come in through the pinhole.

Will you help me (or my child) build one?

Yes! We supply all of the materials you need and will walk you through the process from assembling your camera through the finished printed image. Don’t have time to build a camera? We’ll have some cameras already assembled and ready to go!

This workshop is open to all ages; children 12 & younger may require the assistance of an older child or adult. Please allow up to 2 hours to complete this project. For those completing the workshop later in the afternoon, finished prints may be available by mail later in the week.

Reserve a spot for this workshop

Due to high-demand in previous years, we ask that you RSVP for this free workshop. Please respect others’ time by arriving by or before your reserved time. Patrons arriving 15 minutes after their reserved time will be offered later spots on a first-come, first-served basis subject to availability.

What do I do while I wait?

Heritage games and our museum scavenger hunts make an excellent way to pass the time while your photograph is in the lab. Please note that our museum cafe will be closed this Sunday; bringing a picnic to set up on the grounds is especially welcome.

But is it really free?

Yes! Like all of our Sunday Funday programming, this workshop is free. All you need to bring is your curiosity (and a picnic if you like!) If you want to take your camera home, we ask that you leave us a donation of $10 to help keep the lab inventing new (old) ideas for you to explore.

15 Aug

September 17 – Austin Museum Day comes to Neill-Cochran

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Civil War Era costumes for all persuasions, homemade ice cream on the porch, and your ticket to explore Austin's first 100 years on

Austin Museum Day 2016

Sunday, September 17th, 12PM to 4PM – FREE

Austin Museum Day returns this fall bringing the museum up to full power with more than a few ways to step back into Austin’s early history. Though we can’t ever see many of the original visitors to the Neill-Cochran House, Civil War era reenactors will take to the parlor rooms, giving us an idea of who might have spent a Sunday afternoon here during the first 20 years of the house’s history. Fast forward a decade or two to consider the Neill family’s reconstructed surroundings at your own pace, or further still to look at the Cochran family’s original furnishings in the second floor hall and bedrooms.

Need to rest your attention span? Take a walk around the grounds with our gardens exhibit, take a peek inside the Dependency to see examples of 19th-century tools and kitchenware, or stop by our museum cafe. Afterwards, join us on the porch and help make hand-churned, old-fashioned ice cream and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Something tells us that both will taste just fine no matter what temperature we see this Sunday.

Isn’t it hard to park by campus?

While we are in the West Campus neighborhood, parking is easier than you think. The museum lot is accessible from 23rd street just west of San Gabriel (behind the historic house). Overflow parking is often available just one block away at the University Towers garage at 23rd & Pearl.