Special Exhibit - Bowie: Man, Knife, Legend

Special Exhibition - Bowie: Man, Knife, Legend

Now Open!

The Alamo presents a brand new exhibition exploring the life of legendary Alamo defender James Bowie and his famous knife. James Bowie’s transformation from mere mortal to enduring legend began ten years before his death at the Alamo. The knife that bears his family’s name cuts deeply through American history and culture, even today.


Bowie Exhibit

The exhibit is divided into several sections. The first introduces visitors to Bowie and the times in which he lived.  Although he grew to maturity in Louisiana, Bowie relocated to Texas in 1830 where he planned to make his fortune. A natural born leader, Bowie’s death at the Alamo elevated him to the ranks of early American heroes. 


The exhibit then moves on to the Bowie knife, undoubtedly linked to his contemporary popularity.  Not a duelist in the traditional scene, Bowie nevertheless found notoriety in the 1827 Sandbar Fight where he was forced to defend himself against – and even kill – a political rival with a knife given to him by his older brother, Rezin. Soon, Americans across the south and west were demanding a knife like Bowie’s, giving birth to the term Bowie knife. 


Bowie Exhibit Blacksmith Display

The third part of the exhibit discusses the knife itself, exploring its construction and identifying various styles that can legitimately be called Bowie knives. Interactive touch screen kiosks allow visitors to dive deeper into Bowie’s story, watch a blacksmith forage a knife, and explore the knives themselves in up-close detail.


Visitors can view examples of historic knives, beginning with simple primitive style butcher knives to jewel-like specimens crafted by famous San Antonio cutler Sam Bell. Of course, the Alamo’s knives by Caiaphas Ham and Daniel Searles are on display, as well as several Sheffield-made knives and new-production James Black coffin handle knives.


Bowie Exhibit Touch Screen Kiosk

The final section of the exhibit demonstrates the lasting affect that Bowie and his knife have had on modern popular culture, showing that, even today, the knife that bears his family’s name cuts deeply through American history.


Bowie: Man – Knife – Legend is free to the public in the Alamo Special Exhibition Hall through the end of 2017.