There is no better time to explore Austin-area museums, cultural institutions, and preservation organizations than during the 20th annual Austin Museum Day on Sunday, September 17. Nearly 40 local participating museums have teamed with the Austin Museum Partnership to waive admission fees, host family-friendly activities, and curate special programming for the day.
Here are the best and most interesting offerings for Austin Museum Day:
Save Our Cemeteries, a local preservation nonprofit, will be hosting guided tours of Oakwood Cemetery — Austin’s oldest final resting place — for Austin Museum Day. The cemetery, which dates back to the 1850s, houses some of Austin’s most recognizable names — Zilker, Barton, Bergstrom, Hogg — and overlooks the capitol building. Volunteers will be onsite early to give guided tours of the grounds, and self-guided markers will be present all day until close at sundown. Guided tours 9-11 am; self-guided tours 9 am-6 pm.
The Mexic-Arte Museum will host a slew of fun art-themed activities to celebrate its newest exhibition "Frida and Diego: A Smile in the Middle of the Way." The exhibition runs concurrently with "Love and Death: Community Altars" and celebrates the life and works of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo through the photographs of Peter Jules, Ansel Adams, Leo Matiz, and more. Hands-on art instruction, costuming ideas for the upcoming Viva la Vida Festival and Parade, and a special flower crown demonstration will punctuate the roster of special events. 1-4 pm.
Women and Their Work
Women and Their Work gallery harnesses its annual Red Dot Art Spree into a playful game of "I Spy" for Austin Museum Day. While visitors take in a selection of more than 150 works by some of the best contemporary artists in Texas, they may notice a few hidden details upon closer inspection. Notable works include pieces from Emily Fleisher, Carly Weaver, Chloe Yingst, Heather Sundquist, and Melissa Borrell. 11 am-6 pm.
LBJ Presidential Library and Museum
Celebrate the cultural legacy of the Public Broadcasting Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1967, with "On the Air: 50 Years of Public Broadcasting" currently on view at LBJ Library and Museum. The exhibit, which showcases artifacts from classic PBS programming, will take on an added dimension for Austin Museum Day with an appearance by Grover from Sesame Street, story time with the KLRU-TV Austin vice president of education Benjamin Kramer, and music by the River City Pops. Museum visitors park for free in lot No. 38, located off Red River Street. 9 am-5 pm.
Austin History Center
Whereas the Austin History Center isn’t technically a museum, its work is still that of curation and preservation. For Austin Museum Day, the center will host genealogy- and preservation-related events alongside current photography exhibitions "Finding Refuge in Austin 1848-1980" and "Austin at Mid-Century: Photographs of Dewey Mears." Activities center around Austin family histories and include a preservation station and community pop-up exhibit, an oral history booth, and a family tree-making station for the kids. 1-4 pm.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Fall flowers are blooming at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Austin Museum Day activities are sure to showcase it all. Drop-in tours will run all day, with a seed-planting demonstration, story time in the outdoor classroom, and a UT entomology exhibit. Patrons can also meet featured artist Laurel Daniel and attend a book signing in the Wildflower Center store. 9 am-5 pm.
Blanton Museum of Art
The spirit of Rangoli, the art form native to Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, is alive at the Blanton on Austin Museum Day. In conjunction with the current special exhibition "Epic Tales from Ancient India: Paintings from the San Diego Museum of Art," the Blanton will host traditional Indian dance and storytelling by Aruna Kharod, a Rangoli-inspired community art project, free frozen popsicles from Mom & Pops (while supplies last), and 30 percent off all Indian merchandise in the museum catalog. Free parking is available in the Brazos Garage. 1-5 pm.