Roaming the Blanton Museum of Art

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Stairs to second floor

By Editor Terry Hagerty

One could spend hours just meandering through the captivating halls and passageways of the Blanton Museum of Art, located on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Founded in 1963, the current building complex, including the stunning two-story gallery building, opened in 2006 and was designed by Boston-based Kallman McKinnell & Wood Architects.

And then there’s the art – make that ‘Art.’ Stunning would be an apt description of the museum’s collection. For those who know not much about art – including this reporter – an afternoon at the Blanton Museum is likely the best ‘picture learnin’ one could encounter in Austin. A gorgeous painting by gifted French colorist Jacques Blanchard (1600-1638) from circa 1634-35, titled “Charity,” simply jumps out the moment one enters its exhibit room on the second floor of the gallery building. According to the Louvre, Blanchard was “dubbed the ‘French Titian’ in homage both to his Venetian-influenced use of color and his evocative handling of female beauty.” It is one of the many gems of European art that are part of the Blanton’s extensive collection.

A Lauded Collection – The Blanton Museum is “one of the foremost university art museums in the country, and has the largest and most comprehensive collection of art in Central Texas,” according to its website. The museum’s permanent collection of more than 17,000 works is recognized for its European paintings, an encyclopedic collection of prints and drawings, and modern and contemporary American and Latin American art. There is also Ancient Greek & Roman, Native American and American West art. Additionally, the museum’s Paper Vault showcases a collection of more than 16,000 works on paper from over five centuries. The first floor currently has a riveting exhibit of paintings and sculpture, “Epic Tales From Ancient India,” that runs until October 1.

Location/Hours/Admission – The Blanton Museum of Art is located on the far south side of the U.T. campus, at the intersection of MLK Boulevard and Congress Avenue. Across the way from the main gallery building, the Edgar A. Smith Building houses the Blanton Café and Museum Shop, an auditorium, classrooms and admin offices. A very convenient parking garage is also available for museum visitors – The Brazos Garage – which is just to the east of the museum, also on the campus. Museum hours are: Tuesday-Friday (10 a.m.-5 p.m.); Saturday (11 a.m.-5 p.m.); Sunday (1-5 p.m.) and closed on Monday. Admission is free to museum members, U.T. students, faculty and staff, active military, teachers (with a valid school ID), and children 12 & under. Other admissions fees are: Adults- $9; Seniors (65+) – $7; College students (with valid ID) – $5; Teens/Adults 13-21 – $5 Additionally, admission is always free on Thursdays. And, on the third Thursday of each month, the Blanton remains open until 9 p.m. (All photos by Terry Hagerty)