Transforming Austin

Blanton reveals details on dazzling transformation to UT Austin grounds

Blanton reveals dazzling transformation to UT Austin grounds

Blanton Museum Moody plaza
The Moody Patio will unite the museum's two main buildings. Rendering courtesy of Blanton Museum

Austin's premier art museum is lifting the curtain on its ambitious next chapter.

The Blanton Museum of Art, located on the University of Texas campus, is undergoing "a comprehensive grounds redesign," spanning 200,000 square feet and transforming both of the museum's buildings and its famed Ellsworth Kelly Austin chapel into a cohesive space.

Central to the project is the new Moody Patio, named in honor of the Moody Foundation's record-breaking $20 million gift to the Blanton in 2019. The patio will unite the museum's two main buildings, located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and serve as a community and events space, as well as a place for live music. Design will be overseen by Snøhetta, a Norway-based architecture firm.

Above the patio will be a "distinctive shade canopy" composed of 15 petal-shaped structures designed to both provide relief from the sun and also serve as a visual landmark for the Blanton. Down below, the space will include seating and two stages.

Another key element will be the addition of Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera's first-ever major mural commission. The 105-year-old Herrera was born in Havana and lives in New York City where she's spent most of her career. Though she's been creating art prolifically throughout her adult life, she didn't sell her first painting until she was 89. Over the past 15 years, Herrera has finally received the attention of the art world, including a solo show at the Whitney in 2016 and acquisitions of her work by museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern. 

For the Blanton, Herrera will create "Verde que te quiero verde," which translates to "green how I desire you green," and was inspired by the poem "Romance Sonámbulo" by Federico García Lorca.

A pathway will wind throughout the space, landscaped with native trees and shrubs, creating more cohesion between the Mari and James A. Michener Gallery Building, the Edgar A. Smith Building, and Kelly's Austin. Lobbies for both buildings have also undergone a redesign to accommodate the museum's increase in visitors and students. 

"I believe that landscape has the power to transform a community, very much in the way that great art can transform our hearts and minds,” said Blanton Museum director Simone Wicha in a release.

“The new grounds initiative will transform the Blanton, opening the museum into the city, inviting people in not just to see great art, but also to linger, gather, and be inspired before and after each visit. We want to create a destination — a beloved destination — for families, students, tourists, and art lovers alike.”