The Contemporary Austin is transferring more than seven hundred works, most of its art collection, to the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas in order to focus on expanding its fourteen-acre sculpture park. The decision to find a new home for its collection and to reevaluate its mission was prompted by a $9 million gift from the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation in 2013. The grant formalized the Contemporary’s acquisitions program for its Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria in West Austin.
The majority of the artworks in the collection, which was established by the Texas Fine Arts Association, the Laguna Gloria Art Museum, and the Austin Museum of Art in the 1960s, are late nineteenth- to twenty-first-century works on paper by regional artists. The collection also comprises a wide range of works by Ed Ruscha, Alexander Calder, Georges Braque, Judy Chicago, and Richard Serra, as well as Texas-based artists Robert Rauschenberg, Luis Jiménez, Sarah Canright, Jeffrey Dell, and Margo Sawyer.
“The Contemporary is grateful to have the opportunity to transfer the collection to such a prominent, Texas-based institution dedicated to education through exposure to visual art,” said Louis Grachos, executive director and CEO of the Contemporary Austin. “After consultation with numerous Texas artists represented in the collection, collectors who would be affected by the transfer, and past museum leadership, I feel confident that this transfer reflects the best, most ethically sound manner in which to secure the future of this rich collection.”
The Blanton will incorporate many of the works into its permanent collection—filling gaps in its holdings of modern and contemporary photography and works on paper. Grachos said, “With its dedicated staff and facilities, the Blanton is equipped to properly store, preserve, and present these works in a traditional museum setting, ensuring that residents and visitors from across the state will have the opportunity to learn from the collection for generations to come.”
With 27,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Blanton will be able to exhibit more works than the Contemporary Austin, whose Jones Center downtown is only 8,000 square feet.