Bear witness to history: New Texas Collection exhibit highlights Baylor mascots

Throwback to some of Baylor's past bears as cubs. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Avery Ballmann | Staff Writer

The Texas Collection, located in Carroll Library, is home to “Becoming the Bears: A Snapshot into Baylor’s Mascots” until the end of this semester. Students, faculty and visitors can travel through time with the bear mascots through photographs, memorabilia and visual aids.

As viewers enter through the library they will be greeted by a large picture of what is assumed to be Abner, one of Baylor’s mascots, sitting in the President David E. Garland’s chair.

“The bear mascots used to walk around Waco and campus,” staff archivist of the Texas Collection, Jacqueline Devereaux said. “So this is just an experience of hanging out in the President’s office.”

Devereaux, who helped design the exhibit, said she picked photos from the collection and some were provided by the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat. The exhibit includes pictures like one of Abner capturing the spirit of Baylor’s bears.

“It was a great collaboration of asking different peoples perspectives and throwing out ideas to figure out what would be fun and engaging,” Devereaux said. “For us, within our own collections, trying to give a variety of materials.”

Throughout the display cases there are commemorative Diadeloso Dr Pepper bottles from the ’70s and ’80s, Baylor branded belt buckles and a vintage stuffed bear that has never been on display before. Photographs from the Roundup Yearbook also show the bears drinking Dr Pepper.

“I think for this exhibit we really want it to be fun and approachable,” Devereaux said. “For those of you that are from Waco that’s a fun way that you can quickly relate ‘oh I remember seeing that,’ that’s why I like doing the exhibits like this.”

Relics and photos from the history of the bears on display.
Olivia Havre | Photographer
Relics and photos from the history of the bears on display.
Olivia Havre | Photographer

Former special events coordinator for the Texas Collection, Kristen Jones, is a Baylor alumna and grew up in Waco. When she was a child, she remembers the bears coming to the football games and the stories her Grandpa would tell her about the mascots.

“I was able to draw from all of the stories from growing up and I wanted it to feel like you were stepping back in time as much as possible,” Jones said.

Manager of the Makerspace, KJ Mikulencak, taught Jones how to make the wooden etchings come to life. The Makerspace houses a piece of equipment called the Glowforge, a laser cutter, which is used to engrave wood.

“Primarily what we [The Makerspace] want to do is teach and empower people to be able to use all of this equipment themselves,” Mulencak said. “Because it’s really easy equipment to learn and understand, at least at a beginner level.”

After collaboration and a workshop from Mikulencak, Jones was able to take the lead and create more wooden etchings seen throughout the display cases.

“I thought it would be a really engaging, visual aspect that would be a different kind of material than your normal books,” Jones said. “We wanted something different.”

Mikulencak had a piece of her own to contribute; she designed a 3D bear paw print to look like the bear had just laid its tracks. This model is displayed on top of the cases for viewers to see and reference.

“Visual aids are more memorable than just text on a page,” Mikulencak said. “What you will remember are those adorable wooden stands and the cool vinyl paw prints on the floor and this big paw print that helped you visualize what your hand looks like next to one of our mascots.”

"Joy&squot;s 21st Birthday Celebration".
Olivia Havre | Photographer
"Joy's 21st Birthday Celebration".
Olivia Havre | Photographer

While there are many different visual aids, there are categories that divide the exhibit such as history, talents, sports, habitat life. These sections have pictures and memorabilia as relevant as Joy and Lady’s recent birthday and stories of when the bears came to football games.

Devereaux and Jones created photo collages, signage and details down to the trail of paw prints that lead the viewer through the history and culture of the bears. This exhibit was a cross-department effort, and it will be during the fall semester.

“You see the photos of the Bear Habitat and them interacting with the humans. They’re just so sweet and cute,” Jones said. “I feel like in the craziness of campus life, sometimes you just need something wholesome and that’s just what they are.”