Blanton Museum of Art
Before you even get into the Blanton Museum of Art, Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin catches your eye. The architecture is so minimal, yet stunning. The separate stone structure serves as an imposing introduction to the museum’s vast collections.
The easiest way to understand the Blanton Museum is to break it down into two floors.The ground floor holds the Butler Gallery, where temporary exhibitions are located. The top floor holds the permanent collection galleries.
Carlotta Stankiewicz, the marketing and communications director, and Penny Snyder, the PR and media manager, both stated that this constant rotation keeps galleries fresh and new for visitors all year.
“Just because you’ve been to Blanton once…” Stankiewicz said. “…does not mean it’s going to be the same,” finished Snyder.
The spotless white of the building, the sparkling pennies on the ground, the multiple hues of blue on the staircase. If you’ve seen it all before, you will want to see it again.
What to see
Rotating galleries include paintings from the pre-Columbian era to contemporary pieces. They are displayed in three to four rooms and change regularly.
The newest exhibit will open in February. Words/Matter will display a selection of the Blanton’s Latin American collection of art and will include present-day works and ones dating to the 1920s. It focuses on artists who use language in their artwork, from making up a language completely to even mail art that artists would send to each other.
Staff and faculty members can always enter free, but every Thursday is free to the general public. Staff and faculty members get in free with one guest.
What to do
The Blanton is hosting a lunchtime lecture series on Ellsworth Kelly, creator of the Austin. The focus of the series will be Kelly and different aspects of his artistic practice, along with elements that have influenced that practice during his lifetime.
There are other monthly lunchtime staples. Midday Music, a concert in conjunction with the Butler School of Music, happens on the fourth Tuesday of every month. On the third Thursday of every month, the Blanton hosts a public tour at 12:30 p.m., typically covering the permanent collection. These tours sometimes include gallery talks that provide a more interactive and in-depth peek into an artist’s message.
There are some beloved, iconic works in the Blanton that are on long-term display such as a work by Brazilian conceptual artist Cildo Meireles called Missão/Missões [Mission/Missions] (How to Build Cathedrals), a cathedral of pennies and bones representing a criticism toward the practice of religious conversion in colonial Latin America; and the permanent and hard-to-miss Stacked Waters, an intense piece that covers the entirety of the Blanton’s staircase. Staff and faculty members can enjoy these trademark works at any time.
Kelly’s Austin has also quickly become an icon of the Blanton, and it is permanently at the museum. Staff members speak highly of its calming effect on visitors.
“Just come during your lunch and chill and have a moment of zen,” Stankiewicz said. “There’s benches in there, so you can go in and sit and look at the light coming in through the windows and meditate or just kind of sit and think.”
Don’t miss this
A unique part of the Blanton is the Paper Vault, the source of at least one exhibition every year. Curators get to choose from nearly 15,000 paper art works that the museum has in storage. Unlike other exhibitions shown in the Blanton that may include artifacts or digital aspects, this exhibit rotates every three to four months.
“The thing about works on paper is they have a short life,” said Stankiewicz. “They degrade easily. They’re paper. And so they can only be shown for a certain amount of time. Other than that, they’re in the dark.”