Austin’s most prominent museum is set to be transformed by one of the world’s most well-regarded design firms.
A $20 million gift from The Moody Foundation of Galveston to the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, which Blanton director Simone Wicha and UT president Gregory L. Fenves announced at the museum’s 2019 gala on Saturday, will fund a major redesign of the museum’s exterior spaces. Internationally renowned architecture and design company Snøhetta has already begun developing a master plan for the project.
The ambitious plan was announced nearly a year after the opening of Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, a major artwork installed on the UT grounds outside the museum’s Michener Gallery and Edgar A. Smith buildings. The scope of the project includes reconfiguring outdoor spaces in a way that will connect those buildings with the surrounding campus area as well as adjacent downtown properties and the Texas Capitol Complex.
The state complex has its own master plan, the initial execution of which will coincide with the Blanton redesign and aims to created a pedestrian mall on Congress Avenue between 16th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The museum’s exterior redesign will also focus on making outdoor spaces more versatile and dynamic to expand their use for public programming. In addition, Wicha said in a press statement that the project will further the Blanton’s “position as an Austin landmark and a vibrant cultural anchor for our community,” noting that Kelly’s Austin has already “accelerated the Blanton’s evolution into an international arts destination.” Design details will be released this summer.