Collections at the Museum of the Coastal Bend include the material culture of the Texas Coastal Bend, with artifacts from 13,000 years old to the 20th century. In total, MCB possesses approximately 25,000 artifacts from more than 160 areas and archaeological sites in Texas. Artifacts are on display in the museum’s permanent exhibits, and in storage for preservation and research purposes.
MCB is the repository for the 41VT4 archaeological collection, which encompasses the 1680s French La Salle Fort Saint Louis colony as well as the later Spanish presidio (fort) at the same location. The site is of local, state, and national significance, as the French intrusion on Spanish territory was the impetus for further Spanish colonization beyond Mexico into Texas. Promotion and dissemination of scholarly materials generated by the discovery and excavation of the site broaden the traditional East-West teachings of North American colonization. 41VT4 has objects from French and Spanish colonists, as well as Native people who interacted with both groups.
In 2009, the Museum of the Coastal Bend achieved Certified Curatorial Facility status, a designation awarded by The Texas Historical Commission to only sixteen such designated institutions in the state. The certification, renewed in 2019, ensures that facilities meet current museum standards pertinent to the care and management of held-in-trust collections. The Collections Management Policy ensures that collections are treated responsibly.
In 2017, the museum underwent a Collections Assessment Program administered by IMLS and AAM, as the first step in the museum’s goal to digitize collections and create an online, searchable database for scholarly use. An IMLS Inspire Grant further provided funding in 2019 towards this goal, and enabled the museum to hire two interns to assist with rehousing, cataloging, photography, and data entry of priority collections. The museum is currently accepting applications for unpaid collections internships.