The University of Texas at Austin
A vision grows into one of the finest art collections on any U.S. campus
|The vision of an art gallery at The University of Texas at Austin began when Archer M. Huntington commented, "Wherever I put my foot down, a museum springs up". Huntington, the son of one of the four founders of the Central Pacific Railroad, chose not to follow his father into industry, but instead devote his life to learning, fellowship, and philanthropic activity. Early in 1927, Mrs. T. S. Maxey, an acquaintance of the||
Jack S. Blanton
Photo credit: Marsha Miller
| Huntingtons', donated to the University a bronze sculpture, Diana of the Chase, by Archer's wife, Anna Hyatt, the famous early twentieth-century sculptor. It is assumed that this gift sparked Mr. Huntington's interest in providing an art venue at The University of Texas at Austin. In October of 1927, Mr. Huntington donated approximately 4,300 acres of land in Galveston County to the University of Texas at Austin for the use and benefit of a museum. This gift, originally valued at $145,000, became the Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund (Fund).
Over the ensuing thirty-five years the Fund ultimately contributed $600,000 of the $1.5 million raised to construct the Art Building, where the Archer M. Huntington Gallery, which opened its doors to the public in late 1963, was housed. Since that time, the distributions from the Fund have been used to support art acquisitions, exhibitions, publications, and salaries. Sales of the Fund's land and reinvestment of endowment income have contributed an additional $7.7 million to the Fund. This $7.7 million was invested in the Long Term Fund and has increased in value to $21.3 million as of August 31, 2000. Looking back, the Fund's perpetual support to the University's art culture and education is impressive. Distributions to support the museum have grown from $28,000 in fiscal year 1964 to $811,000 in fiscal year 2000. The total value of all the Fund's assets as of August 31, 2000, was $24.6 million.
The Huntington legacy continues to grow. For the past two decades, Jack S. Blanton, a former UT System regent, has been an advocate for the creation of a new, modern facility that would display the University's stellar art collections. Currently, these collections are displayed in two separate buildings on the campus. In 1996, the University launched a campaign to raise funds to construct and endow a new museum building. To date, over $38 million has been raised toward the building construction and accompanying endowments. Lead gifts from the campaign have come from: Houston Endowment, Inc., in honor of Jack S. Blanton, its chairman; writer and art collector James A. Michener and his wife, Mari; former UT System Board of Regents Chairman Bernard Rapoport and his wife, Audre; and the Brown Foundation. In honor of the $12 million gift from Houston Endowment, Inc. and in recognition of Jack Blanton's long-standing commitment to the arts at the University, the Board of Regents of UT System renamed the Archer M Huntington Art Gallery the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art. On October 3, 2000, Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects, Inc. of Boston was awarded the commission to design the Blanton Museum of Art's new building on the campus in Austin. The new facility is scheduled to open in 2004.
The University of Texas at Austin has the distinction of having one of the finest art collections on any U.S. campus. Encompassing more than 14,000 works, the Blanton's permanent collection spans the history of Western civilization, from antiquity to the present. Highlights include: The Suida-Manning Collection of Renaissance and Baroque Art; twentieth century American art, featuring the Mari and James A. Michener Collection; the collection of contemporary Latin American art; and an encyclopedic collection of prints and drawings, the largest and most balanced collection of its kind in the South and Southwest. The next generation of art scholars and art lovers will be able to enjoy the tradition of excellence built on the vision of Archer M. Huntington and then expanded by Jack S. Blanton.