Blanton Blow-Out

View from MLKAfter a series of private openings for museum members and select audiences, the Blanton Museum of Art threw open its doors to the general public tonight at 9pm. When I say “threw open,” I mean it allowed guests to line up and start trickling in. I arrived around 10:30 to find the line extending all the way around the museum. Fortunately, the UT Marimba Band was set up outside to entertain those who preferred to indulge in the cash bar rather than wait in line. Also fortunate is the extended series of events that go on continuously for the next 24 hours, presenting many more opportunities to actually enter the latest addition to Austin’s culture club. I’m going to try and coerce the wife into watching cartoons with me tomorrow morning at 5am; I’m sure that’ll go over well.

Without having set foot inside the building, my impressions thus far are limited to the exterior. The design is a bit plain, but adds an understated hint of class along MLK Boulevard, particularly in contrast to the extreme Texan-ness of the Bullock State History Museum across the street. The museum also adds an element of walkability along a stretch of campus that has generally been little more than a path to the Erwin Center or Memorial Stadium. I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibits tomorrow, as well as the impact of this building in the years to come.

Update: We did in fact make it Sunday morning, and I’m glad not to have waited the 2+ hours in line that was required Saturday night. The coffee and donuts were inviting, and the stirring music from the UT gospel choir provided an uplifting soundtrack for our brief tour. The collection is quite diverse, with a heavy dose of contemporary works and multi-media setting the tone downstairs. Upstairs, there should be enough European classicism and Remington-esque Western realism to satisfy those who consider modern art one step away from playing with building blocks.

The interior is open and softly lit, with an overall design that is comfortable if conventional. An article in the New York Times explains the controversy over the Blanton’s initial design that was rejected as being “too bold.” I suppose if Austin wanted its own version of the Tate Modern, the Seaholm building would have been the ideal candidate, but that train has already left for a high-rise station.

I’ve uploaded my pictures from the evening and morning visits to Flickr.

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