The Blanton Museum of Art: A Tribute to Artistic Expression - Tex Painting

The Blanton Museum of Art: A Tribute to Artistic Expression

The Blanton Museum of Art

The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, also known as “Blanton” or “The BMA,” is a must-see stop for art lovers in the Austin, Texas area. Affiliated with the University of Austin, the Blanton Museum of Art is one of the largest of its kind in the entire country. Boasting 19,000 works of art and covering 189,000 square feet, the museum is a colossal tribute to the artistic experience that Austin has to offer.

blanton museum

Founded in 1963, the museum is composed of art galleries, a museum shop and cafe, classrooms, and an auditorium. The Blanton is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and from 1 pm to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. As an added benefit, the museum touts free admission on Thursdays as well as free entrance for all veterans. On the third Thursday of each month, the Blanton features extended hours which allow museumgoers to pursue the galleries long into the night.

The museum’s collection includes prints, drawings, European paintings, Baroque paintings, Italian Renaissance paintings, and American and Latin American art from all throughout history. Some of its most notable features are a collection of Roman, Etruscan, and Greek vases that date back to the 6th century BCE, as well as the Suida-Manning Collection of nearly 300 European sculptures and paintings.

The museum can be found deep in the heart of downtown Austin, located at the intersection of Congress Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Visitors can park at the nearby Brazos Garage and then follow the signs to make their way to the museum’s main entrance.

The Blanton is wheelchair accessible, with wheelchairs able to be maneuvered easily throughout the main galleries as well as the cafe, shop, elevators, and the restrooms. Those needing special accommodations, including those wanting to schedule a sign language interpretation, should be sure to contact the Blanton at least five days in advance to ensure satisfactory accommodations.

The Blanton offers a wide range of tours for both visitors who are within the UT Austin system as well as those who are not. Tour choices include an overview tour that introduces visitors to the highlights of the museum, the permanent collection tour which offers a deeper dive into either the European Painting Galleries or the Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries, and the special exhibition tour which highlights one of the museum’s limited-time exhibitions. Tour prices vary based on whether or not a visitor is university-affiliated, but are generally inexpensive.

The paper-based pieces of the Blanton’s collection can be found in the Julia Matthew Wilkinson Center for Prints and Drawings. The center contains a collection of nearly 16,000 paper works, as well as the H-E-B Study Room which allows visitors to make appointments to study and appreciate works not currently on display. With almost 2,000 annual visitors, the H-E-B study room is one of the most visited of its kind in the entire country.

Every year in the fall, the Blaton hosts Soundspace, a musical series that features musical interpretations of a theme that changes every year. Past themes for Soundscape include Biosounds (music inspired by the human body), Refugees (music about the experience of refugees), Transmissions (music based on sounds found on the radio), and Word/Play (an exploration of the usage of text, language, and noise). Museumgoers lucky enough to attend one of these events will find artists interspersed throughout the museum, each one creating music inspired by that year’s theme.

A recent addition to the Blanton, Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin is a stunning 2,715 square foot building adorned with rainbow glass windows, a wooden sculpture, and striking marble panels. The building is a combination of many forms of art, intended by the artist to inspire joy and wonder in those who gaze upon it. Known to many as Kelly’s legacy, Austin was his last creation prior to his death and the only building he ever designed. Those who make the trip to the Blanton would be remiss not to marvel at Austin and honor Kelly’s legacy.

Boasting the largest public collection in the entirety of Central Texas, the Blanton Museum of Art is truly an unmissable stop for anyone interested in the artistic world. Even those who don’t consider themselves artistically inclined will appreciate the museum’s stunning collection which has awed young and old alike.

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