What Starts Here

What Starts Here

About the Campaign

The University of Texas at Austin is undertaking the What Starts Here fundraising campaign—the most ambitious in UT’s history—with all areas of campus participating, including the Blanton Museum of Art. We are proud to be part of UT Austin, which is on the front lines of the future: sparking the imagination, driving discovery, and transforming lives. And it’s only possible because generous supporters like you believe in the power and promise of our state’s flagship university to change the world. More information can be found on the What Starts Here campaign page. Read more about our vision on this webpage.

Leading Through Art: Making a Difference Locally & Globally

Founded in 1963, the Blanton Museum of Art holds the largest public collection in Central Texas, with more than 21,000 objects. Our major collecting areas are modern and contemporary American and Latin American art, Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings, and prints and drawings; our exhibitions encompass these areas and extend beyond, presenting art that spans continents and centuries.

We are a unique museum, serving not only as the art museum for a preeminent public university, but also as the principal art museum for one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. We are both deeply rooted in our local community, welcoming a diverse and broad audience, and well-recognized nationally and internationally.

Expanding knowledge is at the heart of everything we do. Our innovative gallery teaching model not only benefits local K-12 schools and University of Texas at Austin students from all disciplines—art history to business to medicine—but also ensures that every experience at the museum supports lifelong learning for all ages.

In the last decade, the museum’s bold vision has been reflected in such initiatives as:

  • the dynamic reinstallation of the galleries, showcasing our growing contemporary collection that highlights diverse perspectives, as well as historical European art
  • Ellsworth Kelly’s monumental work of art, Austin
  • groundbreaking, world-class exhibitions that explore important current-day ideas and issues and that shed new light on the past
  • our leadership in Latin American modern and contemporary art’s recent extension into Art of the Spanish Americas and Latinx art
  • one of the most visited print study rooms in the country
  • educational programs that lead the field

Thanks to the depth of this program, the Blanton welcomes more than 200,000 visitors annually, from Austin and around the world. 

With this campaign, we can build upon our established areas of excellence—and charge ambitiously ahead to define important new avenues of impact. There is even more to come for the Blanton and the thousands of students and visitors we serve, and this takes investment from visionary supporters like you.

Our Priorities

PRIORITY ONE: Break New Ground with Ambitious Exhibitions

The Blanton’s nationally celebrated exhibitions and award-winning publications are designed by our talented team of curators to be groundbreaking, engaging, and relevant. They present a diversity of genres, artists, cultures, and eras, and bring impactful new knowledge and research to the field. Our exhibition program directly amplifies the museum’s presence as one of Austin’s top destinations and brings national recognition in the arts to both the university and the city.

The Blanton presents a robust schedule of exhibitions every year, providing a foundation for teaching university students and schoolchildren, spurring new knowledge, attracting visitors to the museum from Central Texas and afar, and creating opportunities for enticing public programs. We are committed to providing Austin with experiences that our audiences would otherwise have to travel far and wide to enjoy. No other venue in our city is able to offer this level of exhibition program.

Your help is needed to endow this program and financially solidify and grow the Blanton’s unique ability to bring dynamic exhibitions and important scholarship to campus and community audiences for years to come.

PRIORITY TWO: Innovate In-Person & Virtual Programs

The Blanton’s community programs are a portal for visitors to engage with art, make connections to the world around them, and meet fellow art lovers from diverse backgrounds. Our year-round schedule includes talks with artists, curators, and other interdisciplinary thinkers, live music and other performances, and events the whole family can enjoy. Programs are often collaborations with campus and city partners and draw inspiration from the collection, exhibitions, and the vibrancy of Austin’s cultural scene. Our next steps are twofold, and we need your support.

First, with your investment, we can capitalize on the new grounds and its outdoor stages with a signature series of programs, as well as utilize our auditorium and other indoor spaces. In addition to sustaining and strengthening established programs, the Blanton will create compelling new events that attract new audiences.

Second, your investment will help us to continue recent momentum and strategically leverage technology in new ways to connect visitors, scholars, and artists from an ever-growing range of geographic locations. In the digital realm, the Blanton seeks to continue our commitment to being innovative, accessible, welcoming, and audience-focused. From exhibition-inspired virtual programs that reach a worldwide audience to digital resources developed for local classrooms, there are myriad opportunities for impact.

PRIORITY THREE: Create a Vibrant Gateway & Gathering Place

The Blanton’s ambitious new grounds initiative will unify and revitalize the museum’s campus with architectural and landscape improvements and major art commissions. This project will clarify our location within the city and further define the Blanton as Austin’s art museum by creating a distinctive and welcoming physical presence. With museum visitation increasing dramatically in recent years, the new grounds are an important strategy as we continue to grow and diversify our audience. This project will transform the Blanton, opening the museum into the city, inviting people in to see great art in the new outdoor spaces and to linger, gather, and be inspired before and after each visit. We are partnering with the acclaimed international design firm Snøhetta on this historic project, which is expected to be complete in early 2023.

Your investment in the new grounds will help celebrate the Blanton as a vibrant, world-class art museum that is easily accessible, navigable, and visually engaging for campus and the city.

Rendering of view from Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard looking north toward the Faulkner Gateway and "Austin" by Ellsworth Kelly, with the Edgar A. Smith Building on left and the Mari and James Michener Gallery Building on right.

PRIORITY FOUR: Transform & Celebrate Our Renowned Collection

The collection is the foundation of every truly great museum and defines the works of art we study, exhibit, and present to our visitors in myriad ways. In the last decade, we have nearly doubled the size of the Blanton’s collection, greatly diversifying the areas and artists represented, and this commitment will continue. Well-known, signature works of art attract visitors to the Blanton and are reflective of the dynamic world in which we live. We frequently rotate the works of art displayed in our galleries and use them often for interdisciplinary teaching, for both campus and K-12 audiences.

One of the Blanton’s campaign priorities is to acquire transformative works of art that strengthen our collection and strategically address gaps in our holdings. This collection initiative will culminate in a major exhibition—opening at the 2025 Blanton Gala—celebrating these significant gifts of art that align with the world-class standard set by Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin.

You can help by working with our leadership team to identify key works of art from collectors who wish to impact the Blanton’s collection and be part of this special campaign initiative and exhibition. We are looking to acquire iconic, singular works of art that will leave an indelible impact on our collection.

Two women sat on a bench in front of 3 framed prints with depictions of the Virgin and Child.

PRIORITY FIVE: Recruit & Retain the World’s Best Museum Staff

The Blanton’s highly talented, specialized staff—at all levels—is essential to the Blanton’s ambitions of expanding knowledge, using art to strengthen community, and spurring engagement with campus and the wider world. The creative and intellectual foundation of the museum is our staff, who make everything happen here! The essential next step to not only maintaining our momentum and impact, but also pushing forward, is an investment in our team. This ensures we remain competitive in the workforce, attract the best talent, and respond to Austin’s growth as a city.

Your endowment of key senior positions throughout the museum will help us retain our current exceptional team of leaders and keep the Blanton an attractive and competitive recruiter of national and international talent. Your investment also ensures equitable pay for all museum staff, including the talented “next level” of emerging museum leaders. Support for the people who make the Blanton unique is vital—from the teams who care for and install art to educators teaching in the galleries to the colleagues who welcome visitors. These people, of diverse talents and backgrounds, are the backbone of the Blanton.

PRIORITY SIX: Inspire & Train Tomorrow’s Leaders

Prestigious, competitively paid graduate fellowships help the next generation of curators, educators, and arts leaders launch their careers. Over the years, the Blanton has established a successful, impactful fellowship program that provides valuable hands-on professional training, with fellows undertaking ambitious projects, advancing research in the field, and directly impacting campus and community audiences. While these fellowships have become well-recognized, there is not reliable, permanent funding in place. You can help our next phase as a training ground in two ways.

First, your endowment of graduate fellowships in museum education and curatorial will sustain the museum’s role as a training ground, elevate these fellowships, and further position the museum as a national leader.

Second, you can help by endowing and investing in a new paid internship program the Blanton seeks to launch for undergraduate students from across campus to provide hands-on training, mentoring, and exposure to arts as a career track. An important goal here, too, is to attract students from under-represented backgrounds and bolster the pipeline of who has access to museum careers.

Invest in a Bold Vision

To be an ambitious, visionary museum, we need ambitious, visionary, partners like you. You can help us transform lives through art by making possible beautiful, eye-opening exhibitions; helping retain our exceptional team; supporting the next generation of arts leaders and citizens; funding programs that connect art to the community; and more—all part of establishing the Blanton as one of the country’s best art museums.

You can confidently invest in the Blanton—knowing our proven track record—by providing permanent endowment support for these mission-centric programs. You can make your mark on the Blanton community by creating an endowed fund, naming a staff role or student fellowship, or even naming a space where unforgettable art experiences happen. It all starts with you—members, collectors, alumni, friends, passionate investors—and a vision for what the Blanton can be.

To begin a conversation about your campaign gift, please contact the Blanton development office at development@blantonmuseum.org or 512.232.7516

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