Fresh renovations to be revealed at Blanton Museum of Art

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Photo Credit: Chase Karacostas | Daily Texan Staff

The Blanton Museum of Art will unveil five years worth of renovations when it opens to the public on Feb. 12.

The Blanton is remodeling the collections on the second floor to include twice as much art, narrower corridors, new galleries, a fresh architectural layout, colorful wall tinting and more cohesive explanations of the artwork itself.

“We have a new museum in Austin,” Blanton director Simone Wicha said in a statement to the Austin American-Statesman. “I wanted the Blanton’s experience to represent the personality we embody at the museum — energetic, smart, fun, friendly, curious, sophisticated and collaborative. My challenge to the team was for us to reconsider the museum in a way that was more visually arresting, more thought-provoking and nationally innovative.”

Public relations specialist Christy Butler said the new gallery sections are completely reorganized by themes, media and styles.

“Basically this month we’re going to unveil a complete reinstallation of the permanent collection in the upstairs galleries of the upstairs museum,” Butler said. “We’re going to nearly double the amount of art that’s on view, (and) the new installation will present many works that have rarely been on view.”

The Blanton will showcase collections of Latin American modern and contemporary art and Native American art in their own exclusive gallery spaces for the first time, Butler said.

Greek bronze figurines and Roman marble sculptures will be presented for the first time as well, and three new galleries will be dedicated to art from the ancient and Spanish Americas.  

Art history lecturer Ann Johns said the Blanton’s new emphasis on the Latin American collection is going to be a fantastic change to see at the museum. 

“I’ve been looking at the same stuff for years now,” Johns said. “There’s going to just be more stuff for students to see (and) for any of us to see, and that’s great because you always knew there was stuff in vaults and storage, but I think most of us just want to see it. It looks really exciting.”

The museum space has also been divided up into more intimate galleries with the installation of more doors and small walls, Butler said. There will also be three rotating galleries, which will change every
three months.

Johns said the timing of the museum’s renovation project has had a minor impact on her online class schedule, which takes weekly visits to the museum, but she said she thinks her class will benefit from the new artwork.

Studio art freshman Kaelyn Huang said she is currently in Ann Johns’s online art history class, and she has only seen the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Blanton this semester for the class.

“It’s really exciting,” Huang said. “It’s my first year here, so I’ve heard so many people say how the galleries weren’t full enough and it was kind of boring, so now that we’re getting so many new pieces, it’s really exciting to go see that.”

Alyssa Miller, art history junior and museum intern, said the Blanton will have more of a mix of different types of art with the recent renovations, which is important in order to reach all audiences visiting
the museum.

“Everyone’s been really excited about it,” Miller said. “(The narrower spaces) will be a great way for people to focus on what they’re looking at and to be able to really engage with the object that they’re viewing.”

The renovations will be revealed at a private gala Feb. 11 and opened to the public Feb. 12.