San Felipe de Austin hosts forensic sculptress for History at Night program


People engage the past in many ways, and Texans are a proud bunch when it comes to appreciating rich and compelling history.

For the February History at Night program at the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, attendees will get a great, though little known, story – related to the battle of San Jacinto – and a unique perspective. Nationally renowned forensic sculptor Amanda Danning, of Columbus, Texas, will present a program about her work on six skulls recovered from the San Jacinto battleground.

Danning has consulted with the Smithsonian Institute and her work has been featured in exhibits at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston, and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. With over 20 years of experience as a professional artist and an advanced degree in sculpture, Danning has more than 100 portraits on displays in museums throughout the nation. She has extensive experience in the museum industry working as a designer, fabricator and exhibit director.

This month’s program will be on Thursday, Feb. 27, with the San Felipe de Austin Visitor Center open to guests starting at 6 p.m. and the presentation beginning at 7 pm. Danning will take questions from attendees at the end of her program. Some of the in-progress cranial reconstructions will be displayed during the session. Ultimately, these reconstructions will be exhibited at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville.

Attendees will have a rare chance to see them before that installation, and to hear a program from a renowned speaker who frequently sets attendance records at the venues she works. This History at Night program is admission free.

American naturalist John James Audubon recovered some of the skulls during a trip to the San Jacinto battleground in 1837. In 2009, Texas historians confirmed the presence of six skulls in the Samuel George Morton Cranial Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. The Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground engaged Dr. Janet Monge at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Doug Owsley at the Smithsonian Institute to initiate forensic examinations of the skulls. Danning’s work marks the next step in the public presentation of this remarkable story.

The San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site is managed by the Texas Historical Commission. The Friends of the San Felipe de Austin site support its operations through fundraising and volunteer recruitment. For more information about the historic site, visit


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