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Art, History, and More: 12 Museums in Austin Texas

One of the most delightful cities in the world, the capital city of Texas, Austin has so much to offer. From its outstandingly delicious food to eclectic live music, to some amazing historic landmarks, Austin is one of the best cities to visit and live in.

Some remarkable museums reflect the rich culture and heritage of Texas history. It also houses many largest university art museums with their own dedicated modern and contemporary art. This article shall explore the seven most elegant museums in Austin, Tx you should visit!

1. Museums in Downtown Austin

Downtown Austin is known for its rich sense of history, and significant late-19th-century architectural landmarks, including the iconic Texas State Capitol and the Driskill Hotel. Several modern museums dot the place.

Music lovers from all over the world flock to celebrated venues in Austin like the Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater and Stubbs BBQ, while hedonists love to hit the high-energy bars along East 6th Street. 

1.1. The Blanton Museum of Art

Museums in Austin Texas
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Regarded as the largest art museum in Austin, TX the Blanton Museum of Art, central Texas at the University of Texas is also one of the grandest ones. It was founded in 1963 on the University of Texas campus at Austin.

Its huge land area is divided among its temporary art exhibitions, permanent collection galleries, storage, administrative offices, classrooms, a print study room, an auditorium, shops, and cafes.

The Blanton Gallery’s permanent collection comprises more than twenty-one thousand works of art by many artists. The various arts the Blanton Museum of Art in the Texas Uni campus includes within its array are modern art, contemporary art, Latin American art, Old Master paintings, prints, and drawings from artists in Europe, the United States, and Latin America.

Blanton Museum of Art also includes the Julia Matthews Wilkinson Center for Prints and Drawings. It houses most of Blanton’s 16,000 works on paper which reflects Blanton’s fifty-year focus on three specific collecting areas: European art from 1450-1800, Latin American art after 1960, and American art of the 20th century.

1.2. Mexic-Arte Museum

Mexic-Arte is one of the most captivating museums, Located in Austin’s architectural icon, the Frosbank Tower, Cesar Chavez St, the Mexic-Arte museum is a fine art museum dedicated to traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latino art and culture. Most significantly, however, tourists visit this Austin museum to see how the Mexican culture is being reflected in all its glory.

The Mexic Arte Museum was founded in the late 20th century. It is officially known as the Mexican-American Fine Art Museum of Texas. In 1988, the museum relocated to a new location on Congress Ave in Austin.

One of the major achievements of the museum was that in 2016, the Screen It! program was regarded as one of twelve awardees of the National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Awards.

1.3. UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum

Surfboard Shaping Workshop
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Revered as UMLAUF, the Umlauf Sculptures Garden, and Museum is a true work of art worth visiting several times.

the UMLAUF also encompasses an outdoor sculpture garden centered on the mesmerizing artistic works of American sculptor Charles Umlauf who was also a professor at the University of Texas at Austin Art Department for 40 years.

The UMLAUF has art galleries that seasonally exhibit contemporary artists from around the world. However major exhibitions are artworks by Texan and Southern artists. Past exhibits have included work by artists: James Surls, Farrah Fawcett, Jesús Moroles, Luis Jimenez, and Michael Ray Charles.

Two significant sculptures at UMLAUF are of Madonna and Charles Umlauf.

1.4. Harry Ransom Center

The Harry Ransom Center, which was the Humanities Research Center until 1983, is an archive, library, and museum at the University of Texas campus at Austin.

The center specializes in the collection of literary and cultural artifacts from the Americas and Europe to aid with studies in the fields of the arts and humanities.

The Harry Ransom Center comprises millions of literary manuscripts, a million rare books, five million photographs, and a large number of other literary works. The Center has a reading room for scholars and galleries that display interchanging exhibitions of works and objects from collections at Harry Ransom.

This Austin, TX museum building hosts thousands of research visits each year and publishes books by faculty members, administrators, and scholars at the University of Texas.

1.5. Bullock Texas State History Museum

Museums in Austin Texas
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Located in downtown Austin, TX, at North Congress Ave the Bullock Texas State History Museum is named after Bob Bullock, the 38th Lieutenant Governor of Texas. The sole purpose of this museum has been to continually decipher the “Story of Texas” to the broadest possible audience through meaningful educational and pedagogical experiences.

In 2018, the Bullock Museum inaugurated its newly renovated long-term first-floor Texas History Gallery titled ‘Becoming Texas’.

The gallery explores Texas history beginning with a projectile point discovered at the Gault archaeological site 40 miles (64 km) north of Austin, one of the earliest known objects created by humans in the Americas.

The gallery exhibit also examines the early American Indian civilizations that inhabited the area before European arrival, how Europeans aimed to colonize the land, and the global politics that influenced the growth of Texas in the early years.

It has several art galleries that feature European paintings, photography, and art forms from other parts of the world.

1.6. Texas Music Museum

The historic Texas Music Museum is located in the Griffin Building. It receives support in part from the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

It collects and preserves artifacts, documents, and reference materials surrounding the diverse traditions of Texas music. Its exhibits include works of artists of African-American origin to local artists in and around Texas.

It also collaborates with and organizes several international music festivals such as the 2019 International Music Festival, the 2020: Texas Music Museum’s International Music Music Festivals’ 10th Anniversary.

2. Museums of Contemporary Art

Museums in Austin Texas
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Contemporary art reflects the issues of today. It is made by living artists who through their works of art uphold what’s happening in and around themselves by holding a mirror to society.

There are several museums of contemporary art, spread throughout the continents.

The Contemporary Austin–Jones Center on Congress Avenue, formerly known as the AMOA-Arthouse at The Jones Center, is one of two museum sites of Contemporary Austin nature, the other being the Laguna Gloria, located alongside Lake Austin. These two museums patron up-and-coming artists from various parts of the world.

2.1. The Contemporary Austin-Jones Center

Located on Congress Ave, the contemporary Austin Jones center is one of the supreme contemporary art museums in North Austin, TX.

The Contemporary Austin upholds the arc of contemporary art through exhibitions, commissions, education, and its gallery which exhibits the works by different contemporary artists.

The center offers several opportunities for kids as well. Admission is free for all below eighteen years of age. Besides, there are grounds, parks, and sites to do other fun activities like games, puzzles, and crafts.

2.2. Laguna Gloria

The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria || Exploring Austin, Texas

Formerly known as the AMOA-Arthouse at Laguna Gloria, a museum of contemporary art and artists, Laguna Gloria is the former home of Clara Driscoll, (an American philanthropist who helped save the Alamo mission in San Antonio).

Laguna Gloria was the original home of the Austin Museum of Art and still houses some of its collections. The building now complements Austin-Jones and the other sites of The Contemporary Austin art museums.

Listed under the National Register of Historic Places, Laguna Gloria is named after a nearby lagoon off the Colorado River. In 1992, this downtown Austin institution changed its name to the Austin Museum of Art.

Four years later it moved its primary exhibition space to a part of Congress Ave, in the heart of downtown Austin. In 2003, the Driscoll Villa was renovated and again became an exhibition space, focusing on regional and local artists.

Its displays and gallery exhibit works of emerging artists of Texas city and tell their stories. You must visit this North Austin museum for a unique experience, with eclectic live music, an exquisite tour, and a gift shop.

3. Museums in East Austin, TX

3.1. The George Washington Carver Museum

Located in Tuskegee, Alabama, United States, the magnificent George Washington Carver Museum is a part of the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site. (Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University donated the home of Booker T. Washington and the Carver Museum to the National Park Service in 1977, and much of the Carver collection in 1979.)

The G.W. Carver Museum was built with significant aid and support from the renowned industrialist, Henry Ford. It is located in east Austin and is also a remarkable event center.

This Austin TX museum has many wonderful exhibits and displays but is most importantly known for two introductory films on George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington, which are available at the museum.

3.1.1. The Exhibition Space

Museums in Austin Texas
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The primary exhibition space of this Austin Museum is divided into two sections. The first section of the gallery focuses on art on the inspiring career of Dr. Carver.

It consists of some of his laboratory equipment, including salvaged parts of discarded equipment with which he had set up his first laboratory, and his one true piece of scientific equipment: a microscope.

Arts exhibits of his paintings, embroidery, and needlework interpret his artistic manoeuvers. On display are plaques, medals, and artistic work created in tribute to Dr. Carver.

The second section or gallery of the Texas Museum focuses on the development of the Tuskegee Institute, from its foundation in 1881 to the present day.

Through photographs and artifacts, the exhibits outline the school’s accomplishments. The compilation of statistics on Black life (such as that of Martin Luther King Jr) is interpreted through extension work.

3.2. French Legation State Historic Site

Situated in East Austin, on San Marcos Street, the French Legation is a historic legation that was established in 1841 to represent the French government in the new Republic of Texas.

It is among the oldest extant frame buildings and the best museums in Austin. This Austin, TX museum, French Legation is also a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, a City of Austin Historic Landmark, and a Texas State Antiquities Landmark.

One can see the Texas State Capitol from the front porch of the French Legation building. There are outdoor interpretive panels that explore the development of the French Legation property and the site’s role in the development of Eastern Austin.

One can also avail of the self-guided tours which are currently provided Tuesday through Saturday and are included in your admission fee (which is again free for a limited time). Museum tours last for about 30 minutes.

3.3. Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata

Marilyn's Last Cigarette and Terrifying Taxidermy - Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata

The Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata in the East side of Austin, TX is dedicated to preserving endangered modes of collection, offering a venue where the public can share objects and their stories, and contemplate the diverse processes of collecting and sharing.

If you are looking for interesting museums to visit, this is it. Its impermanent collection encompasses within it urban phantasmagoria, an entire exhibition dealing with sleep, and collections known as the ‘Bulk,’ the ‘Celebrity,’ the ‘Snowglobe,’ and the ‘naturalia and artificilia.’

3.4. Elisabet Ney Museum

Built-in neoclassical architectural style, the Elisabet Ney Museum is one of the most wonderful museums. It was the home and studio of the much-celebrated artist and sculptor, Elisabet Ney, a German sculptor who moved to Austin in 1882.

Elisabet Ney enthusiastically celebrates her art, her history, and her legacy through exhibitions and events which should be seen by whole families.

The museum is home to numerous historic designations and is an important cornerstone of the Hyde Park National Register Historic Neighborhood. Admission is free to this museum.

Top 10. Best Museums in Austin, Texas

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Last Updated on November 8, 2023 by Namita Soren


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