The Blanton Museum of Art is dedicated to creating a welcoming and approachable museum experience that inspires discovery, serving as the art museum for The University of Texas at Austin and the city of Austin, and making a national impact through innovative programming while offering diverse programs that gather people, represent diverse perspectives, foster learning, and bring joy.
What significance does this grant hold for the museum and its grounds redevelopment, and how has the Moody Foundation funding been utilized to support your organization as a whole?
In early 2019, the announcement of the Moody Foundation’s $20 million lead gift marked a significant milestone, propelling the Blanton’s new grounds initiative forward. This monumental support from the foundation not only resulted in the creation of the vibrant Moody Patio, now a central gathering space but also stands as one of the largest grants ever awarded to benefit Austin’s fine arts community and the most substantial contribution made in support of the city’s outdoor spaces.
This generous grant from the Moody Foundation has played a pivotal role in the ongoing transformation of the museum’s grounds, facilitating architectural and landscape improvements across the campus. Furthermore, the gift established the Moody Family Free Day Endowment, ensuring that visitors to the Blanton Museum can experience the cultural riches with the added privilege of free admission every Tuesday.
The Moody Patio at the Blanton Museum recently opened in May 2023. Can you tell us about this space and how it has enhanced the visitor experience at the museum?
During the grand opening celebration, Austin Mayor Kirk Watson affectionately referred to the new grounds as “the community’s patio,” emphasizing its significance in a city renowned for its vibrant patio culture. The redesign focused on providing a communal space and an enriching extension of the museum experience. The revamped grounds now warmly welcome visitors before their museum exploration, offering a space for reflection afterward. UT students have embraced it as a popular study spot and a casual hangout between classes. The Moody Patio has also become a venue for community programs like Second Saturdays, where visitors can enjoy picnics, local live music, and explore world-class art. Since the grand opening, there has been a notable surge in museum attendance, drawing international tourists and engaging both new and longtime Austinites who may not have previously visited. Social media, particularly Instagram, has played a pivotal role, turning the distinctive petal shade structures into an iconic Austin landmark.
Can you describe the design and features of the Moody Patio?
The Moody Patio, an expansive gathering area situated between the museum’s main buildings and the plaza of Austin by Ellsworth Kelly, is a versatile space. It features two adjacent stages for live music and performances, with one stage adorned by the late Carmen Herrera’s inaugural public mural. Complemented by new native Texas landscaping, a picnic-friendly lawn, and various seating areas, the Moody Patio offers a panoramic view of the Texas State Capitol.
In addition to its exhibits, what other unique programs does the Blanton Museum present?
Public programs include monthly Second Saturdays with live music on the Moody Patio as well as art talks and tours in the galleries; quarterly B Scene art parties that bring the museum to life at night with art talks, music, and more throughout the grounds and galleries till 10:30 p.m.; and the newly launched Blanton Live: Conversations for Now—a signature series featuring artists and creative thinkers discussing the most compelling issues of the day. The Blanton also has robust educational programs for university and PK-12 students as well as scholarly programs that are all rooted in its collection and exhibitions.
What can visitors anticipate in the future from the Blanton Museum? Are there plans for expansion, new installations, or collaborative ventures related to this space?
Our Second Saturdays have gained popularity with visitors and will continue throughout 2024. With the two stages on the Moody Patio there are endless possibilities for programming. The Butler Sound Gallery, an outdoor space dedicated to sound art adjacent to the Moody Patio, is set to feature a new sound installation in the upcoming years. Additionally, there are plans for a new café area with alfresco dining, providing our community with another reason to visit and enjoy the museum campus. We’re excited to continue to learn from our visitors and see how they use and experience this dynamic space.