The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) is an art museum in Downtown San Antonio, Texas, USA. In the Early 1970s, plans were initiated to purchase the historic Lone Star Brewery complex for conversion into the San Antonio Museum of Art and following a $7.2 million renovation, the San Antonio Museum of Art opened to the public in March 1981. The museum was funded through grants from the Economic Development Administration of San Antonio, and numerous businessmen and foundations. The museum is situated on the northern section of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Café des Artistes is SAMA's restaurant which overlooks the river.
When the museum opened it specialized in art of the Americas including pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial and Latin American folk art. It also included eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European paintings, photography, sculpture and decorative arts. In 1985, the Museum received collections of Latin American Folk Art formed from former Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller and Robert K. Winn.
Former streetcar service
From 1982 through 1985, the museum also operated a heritage streetcar service, using an original San Antonio streetcar built in 1913 and nicknamed "Old 300". The all-yellow car operated on a short section of Texas Transportation Company (TXTC) tracks behind the museum. TXTC was an electric railroad, operating trains powered from overhead trolley wires, and its tracks still reached the former Lone Star Brewery complex, in which the museum was installed in 1981. Streetcar service in San Antonio ended in 1933, but car 300 was preserved at that time by the San Antonio Museums Association. In 1981, volunteers restored car 300 to operating condition as a historical attraction at the then-new museum. Public operation began in October 1982.
The car ran twice a day on Tuesdays through Fridays and six times a day on weekends, but budget cuts led to the service's being discontinued at the end of 1985. The 1913 streetcar was placed in storage, being operated (without passengers) a few times a year to keep it in running condition, until 1990, when it was leased to a company in Portland, Oregon, for use on the Willamette Shore Trolley line there. SAMA continued to be car 300's owner, leasing it to entities in Oregon, but in 2005 it sold the car to the Astoria Riverfront Trolley Association, who had been operating it on a popular heritage streetcar line in Astoria, Oregon, since 1999.