Botanist and high school teacher Ellen Schultz began her goal of starting a museum for the growing city of San Antonio in 1923. She began fundraising to acquire the well-known H.P. Attwater natural history collection the same year. Schultz and other interested local citizens including Lena McAllister, Ethel Drought and Mayor John Tobin formed the San Antonio Museum Association. Schultz organized schoolchildren to raise funds to acquire the Attwater Collection by selling bluebonnets and cakes and doing historical performances of Los Pastores. They raised enough funds and the natural history collection was purchased and installed at Main Avenue High School on October 8, 1923.
San Antonio businessman Alfred W. Witte died September 22, 1925, leaving $65,000 to fund a museum in Brackenridge Park. The gift was unexpected and the members of the San Antonio Museum Association went to work with Mayor Tobin and Architect Robert Ayers on the new museum named for Witte’s parents. The site chosen was the location of the original Spanish Acequia Madre de Valero, or irrigation canal, that supplied water to the Alamo mission and the surrounding colonial farms. The Witte Museum opened just over a year later to a huge community celebration on October 8, 1926.