Austin’s premier art museum opens the curtain on its ambitious next chapter.
The Blanton Museum of Art on the University of Texas campus is currently undergoing a “major site redesign,” which spans 200,000 square feet, transforming both the museum’s buildings and the famous Ellsworth Kelly Austin Chapel into one cohesive space.
The focus of the project is the new Moody Patio, named in honor of the Moody Foundation’s record $ 20 million gift to the Blanton in 2019. The patio will combine the two main museum buildings, located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and serve as a community and event space as well as a place for live music. The design is overseen by Snøhetta, a Norwegian architecture firm.
Above the terrace there is a “striking shade roof”, which consists of 15 petal-shaped structures that both relieve the sun and serve as a visual landmark for the Blanton. Downstairs, the space will include seating and two stages.
Another key element will be the inclusion of the first large mural commission by the Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera. 105-year-old Herrera was born in Havana and lives in New York City, where she has spent most of her career. Although she created a lot of art throughout her adult life, she didn’t sell her first painting until she was 89. For the past 15 years, Herrera has finally caught the art world’s attention, including a solo show at the Whitney in 2016 and acquisitions of her work through museums like the Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern.
For the Blanton Herrera will create “Verde que te quiero verde”, which translated means “green as I wish you green” and was inspired by the poem “Romance Sonámbulo” by Federico García Lorca.
A path meanders through the room, designed with native trees and shrubs, creating more cohesion between the Mari and James A. Michener gallery building, the Edgar A. Smith building, and Kelly’s Austin. The lobbies for both buildings have also been redesigned to accommodate the increase in visitors and students to the museum.
“I believe that landscape has the power to transform a community, much in the way that great art can transform our hearts and minds,” said Simone Wicha, director of the Blanton Museum, in a press release.
“The new site initiative will transform the Blanton, open the museum into the city and invite people not only to see great art, but also to linger before and after each visit, to gather together and be inspired. We want to create a destination – a popular destination – for families, students, tourists and art lovers alike. “