Osborne leads Gladys City to rediscovery, community connection
From Gladys City Nights to Wildcatter Weekends to daily forays into living history, Lamar University’s Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum is the place to be for education and entertainment.
And the driving force behind all of the activity is Mark Osborne, who, during almost nine months as the museum’s director, has instituted an exciting lineup of things to do at the re-created boomtown that celebrates the discovery of oil at Spindletop on Jan. 10, 1901.
“We hear a lot about how America needs to rediscover its passion for innovation,” Osborne said. “Gladys City has such great potential to inspire young people through the story of Spindletop to dream big and work hard to achieve great things in their lives.
“My No. 1 goal right now is to make sure Gladys City is an active and engaged member of the community, especially here at Lamar. We have only begun to explore the possibilities that may exist to work with faculty and students.”
Events and experiences to entertain, enlighten and inform visitors from Southeast Texas and far beyond are a regular occurrence at the museum. In recent months, however, Osborne has added a new dimension of interest with the institution of Wildcatter Weekends on the second Saturday and Sunday of each month and Gladys City Nights on the third Thursday of each month.
This month, the museum will be decked out in its holiday finest for a special Wildcatter Weekend special event – HOLIDAZE at Gladys City – from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 11, for two evenings of activities for the entire family. Craft demonstrations, carolers, special guest performers and a few surprises await visitors.
On Thursday, Dec. 15, Gladys City Nights will welcome Diane Rose, “The Amazing Quilter,” as guest speaker. Activities begin at 6 p.m. with Rose speaking at 6:30 p.m. before a reception in the Log Cabin Saloon.
Previous Wildcatter Weekends and Gladys City Nights have focused on various themes and featured an array of entertainment.
Gladys City opened on Jan. 10, 1976 as a gift to the state of Texas and Lamar University as a Bicentennial project of the Lucas Gusher Monument Association and City of Beaumont Bicentennial Commission. On Jan. 10, 2001, the museum celebrated the Spindletop Centennial, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the country and featuring a keynote speech by former President George H.W. Bush. On Jan. 10, 2011, the museum will observe another decade milestone for the discovery that ushered in the age of energy.
“Gladys City reached its 35th anniversary this year. We have a lot of work to do to make sure the next 35 are even better.” Osborne said. “In a few short months, I have learned what a special place Gladys City is to the area. I have received such a great reception in Beaumont. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming.”
A native of Houston, Osborne began his career as an exhibit manager at Capital Children’s Museum (now the National Children’s Museum) in Washington, D.C. While at the museum, Osborne said, he learned how museums can truly engage young minds and promote learning. He also had the opportunity to work on several major exhibits, including ones on Thailand, the animation of Chuck Jones and the Holocaust.
Returning home to Texas in 1995, Osborne spent time as a graphic designer at Weatherford College in Weatherford, just west of Fort Worth. In 2003, he moved to East Texas and began working at Tyler Junior College as an operations manager in the School of Continuing Studies. While living in Tyler, he earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Texas at Tyler.
Most recently, Osborne spent a year and a half at Lone Star College-Kingwood before setting out to fulfill his dream of returning to museum work. In May 2010, he started work on his master’s degree in public history with American Public University and began the search for a museum position – a search that took him from Marshall to New Braunfels and Paris to Beaumont.
On March 15, 2011, he became director of the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum.
Osborne is a member of the Texas Forest Trail Region Board, the Beaumont Association of Museums, Southeast Texas Museum Association, American Association of Museums, East Texas Historical Association and the Texas Association of Museums. He said he enjoys “road-tripping,” classic films and being uncle to 16 nieces and nephews.
Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum, on U.S. 69 at University Drive in Beaumont, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Additional information is available at (409) 880-1750 or www.gladyscity.org.