Panorama of Blanton HVAC unit
Tom Flowers, Blanton Manager of Facilities, explains why the museum is one of the “coolest” places in Austin!

As Austin’s terrible heat wave/drought marches on into July, Barton Springs is a popular spot to cool off. Another good place is the Blanton Museum, and you won’t need to bring a towel or worry about how you look in your swimsuit!

To ensure the safe keeping of the museum’s extensive and well-known art collection, The Blanton has to keep its interior spaces cool and dry. That means a 72-degree temperature year round, and a relative humidity in the 50% range- no small task, given the scorching temperatures outdoors. So how do we do it? To keep these cool, dry conditions, the museum uses state-of-the-art digital sensors and controls to monitor the conditions 24/7/365. Each gallery has three sensors which average out and maintain the temperature and humidity levels at each location. This information is then transmitted back to the HVAC unit (or air conditioner to us lay people) which adjusts the amounts of hot and cold air sent to each gallery. If the atmosphere becomes too dry, steam is injected into the air stream until the proper relative humidity is achieved. Phew!

Fortunately, the by-product of a well-conditioned art collection is a very refreshing location for Austinites and visitors to escape the brutal summers. The next time the heat has you down, head to The Blanton and spend a couple hours in our cool, non-humid galleries while enjoying European masterworks and a wide range of modern and contemporary art. And afterward, you can always head to The Blanton Cafe for an iced coffee or lemonade!

Image: The massive Blanton HVAC system

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