Corsicana adopted a marketing slogan a couple of years ago, proclaiming “Corsicana, where Country meets Culture.”

A perfect example of the “culture” right here in the “country” is the Pearce Civil War and Western Art Museum, located on the campus of Navarro College in Corsicana.

Tour groups, visitors and school children by the busload are learning about the history of the only war our nation has fought on its own soil with their frequent trips to the Pearce Museum, made possible through the generosity and interest of Mr. Chuck Pearce and his love for history.

Located in the Cook Education Center at Navarro College, the Pearce Museum plays host to regular and special exhibits of Civil War historical displays and documents, along with an ever-increasing collection of western art pieces acquired by Pearce for display.

The collection began with a Civil War document that Pearce gave to his wife as a gift. The idea of acquiring more, and sharing them with the public grew from there. The documents found a home at the Cook Center, home of what was then the largest planetarium in Texas.

“We’ve added pieces from Robert Peters and Joe Netherwood to our collection this year,” says Julie Holcomb, archivist for the museums. “We’ve also added some pieces to our Civil War collection, including a group of items from a man who fought in the war. It’s a grouping of letters and diaries, and some bullets picked up from battlefields.”

New exhibit ideas are always being explored for addition to the museum’s collections, according to Holcomb, drawing from an extensive collection of items.

“It’s certainly one of the largest collections of Civil War items west of the Mississippi,” Holcomb said, “and its been described by historians as the best Civil War collection west of the Mississippi.”

The number of items collected by Pearce for the museums now exceed 14,000, according to Holcomb, and they are always looking at new items that come on the market that might fit in with the displays.

“We’re working on a new exhibit about the role of black soldiers in the Civil War,” Holcomb said. “We hope to have that in place by June.”

Pearce, the benefactor of the museum, takes an active role in the acquisitions, visiting the museums nearly every day and reviewing documents, Holcomb said.

“This is a very special collection for him. He loves to share it with the public, and he particularly loves sharing it with the school tours,” Holcomb said. “He enjoys watching the children come through, and maybe changing somebody’s life or getting someone to take a different look at art or a different look at history.”

The museum is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Special combination tickets that include entry to the museums and the planetarium shows are available. A gift shop and light refreshments are also sold at the museum and planetarium.

Information on group tours and exhibits is available by calling the museum at (903) 875-7596, or toll-free (800) 988-5317.

The museums and the Cook Education Center are located on the Navarro College campus in Corsicana, at 3200 W. Seventh Ave.

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