A look at the City of Austin's gifts from other countries


by KVUE.com


Posted on April 8, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 8 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- It's always nice to get a gift, but sometimes you're left wondering what to do with them. That's something City leaders had to think about as Austin accumulates a treasure trove of items from visiting dignitaries.

As those gifts stack up, the City's solution -- like many of us with more stuff than we can keep at home -- is to put them in storage.

Inside a small storage unit in Southeast Austin lies a unique collection of items from around the world.

“The City of Austin is definitely a very global city and we've been receiving delegations for many years,” said Natalie Betts, the City's International Program Manager. 

Betts says it's customary for those delegations to come bearing gifts.

“We label them by country. Here's items from Japan, from Korea, and China,” Betts said. “These exchanges have been going on for decades.”

Inside stacked plastic containers are books, sculptures, scrolls and much more. There are gifts from places including Maseru, Lesotho; Saltillo, Mexico and Koblenz, Germany.

The City doesn't appraise these gifts. But Betts says when it comes to building a relationship with other cities around the world, these items are priceless.

“People do give items that are certainly very valuable to their culture,” Betts said. “These items are very valuable to the City of Austin and the citizens of Austin as a historical example of some of the delegations we've received over the years.”

Some of the gifts are being displayed at Austin's airport and outside the mayor's office at City Hall.

But Betts hopes all of the items can someday leave the storage unit for good.

“We certainly hope that one day all of these items can be displayed for the citizens to see,” she said.

So what does Austin give to other cities around the world? A small stylized sculpture of Austin's skyline, complete with a bat, Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Frost Bank Tower.