Austin Museum of Art

Austin Museum of Art

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Since it was established in 1961 as Laguna Gloria Art Museum, the Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) has continually served as Austin, Texas's primary community art museum. The museums roots date to 1943, when Clara Driscoll donated her 1916 lakeside estate in west Austin to be used “as a museum to bring pleasure in the appreciation of art to the people of Texas.” 1


When it was established in 1961, the museum presented exhibitions, educational programs, and art classes. Shortly thereafter The Art School was created in the early 1960s. Then in 1983, to serve expanding enrollments, a convert|5300|sqft|m2|sing=on Art School facility was built with the support of donors.

After several failed attempts to create a downtown location, the museum joined with representatives of two other Austin cultural organizations to form the Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) in 1992 and successfully moved its primary exhibition space to 823 Congress Avenue in downtown Austin in 1996. The downtown location provided a more centralized location and allowed for the restoration and preservation of the museum’s original home at Laguna Gloria.1

In 2004, AMOA’s Board of Trustees and staff completed a strategic planning process for the entire organization that considered AMOA's goal of eventually building a permanent downtown facility.1 The new building concept is more conservative than previous attempts, such as the convert|140000|sqft|m2|sing=on designed by Richard Gluckman in 2000. The current design features a convert|40000|sqft|m2|sing=on, three-story museum; a 30-story glass office building; and a quarter of the block left open for possible future expansion.3 Until the new facility is built, AMOA will continue to operate in its 823 Congress Avenue and Laguna Gloria locations.1


AMOA-Downtown offers exhibitions and seminars that the museum claims are oriented towards the interests of a broad general audience. The gallery serves as the Museum’s primary exhibition site and presents four to six exhibitions a year6, as well as continually-changing education programs that focus on twentieth-century and contemporary art.1

AMOA-Downtown organizes its own exhibitions and presents traveling exhibitions that feature painting, photography, video, and sculpture.4 The Museum also presents a variety of interdisciplinary and hands-on public education programs for schoolchildren, families, and adults.1 A goal of AMOA-Downtown is to emphasize connections between the visual arts and other art forms and contemporary life. Opportunities to respond to the exhibition include accompanying talks, performances, guided tours, film series, hands-on community activities,6 and the FamilyLab which was launched in 2006 as a place for families to create art together.5 AMOA-Downtown also features the Community Room, a place for activities, and private functions with gallery access.1

AMOA-Laguna Gloria

The Museum still maintains its original home on the Clara Driscoll estate, where it was known for 34 years as Laguna Gloria Art Museum. AMOA-Laguna Gloria runs the Museum's Art School which offers a variety of classes in art, art history, and film.6 Once owned by Stephen F. Austin,1 the Laguna Gloria site has been declared a national treasure and is on city, state, and national registries of historic places.4 Stephen F. Austin described the property as being “on the Colorado at the foot of the mountains” and wrote in 1832 that he intended to build a home for himself on it; however, this never came to pass.1 Visitors can tour the recently-restored 1916 Italianate-style villa that was the home of Texas legend Clara Driscoll6 and view art exhibitions. The site includes 12-acre grounds overlooking Lake Austin, sculpture, and historic gardens. It is also home to The Art School, one of the largest museum-affiliated schools in the nation, where classes are taught year-round to adults and children.

Clara Driscoll

Known as “The Savior of the Alamo,” Clara Driscoll was born on April 2, 1881, in St. Mary's, Texas, on Copano Bay, to wealthy ranchers Robert and Julia Fox Driscoll. 2

In 1903, she paid the thousands of dollars necessary to prevent the sale of the Alamo convent to a hotel, earning her the title, "Savior of the Alamo." Until then, the only Alamo property owned by the state was the mission church acquired in 1883. She was reimbursed by the Texas Legislature in 1905 and the entire Alamo property was given over to the safekeeping of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. 2

In 1906, Driscoll married editor and publisher of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, Hal Sevier. The couple purchased the Laguna Gloria property in 1914, because it reminded them of Lake Como in Italy where they had honeymooned a few years earlier. In 1916 they built a home on the land, designed by San Antonio architect Harvey L. Page. They named it Laguna Gloria in part after one of her family’s ranches in Duval County, “La Gloria.” The site’s proximity to water is most likely the reason they referred to it as a lagoon. In 1926, Driscoll reflected on the site:

I have struggled to make this little home site…into a passably presentable garden of lawns and shrubs and flowers, intersected by paths and steps, with…glimpses and balustrades, and a few oil jars of ancient and accepted design. I have placed in…a proper setting a number of really beautiful and graceful statues which I was fortunate enough to obtain from one of the oldest and finest gardens in old Italy; this to give an Old World touch to an incomparably beautiful Texas landscape and to contribute a little dignity and formality to the riotous caprices of this violet-crowned vale.1


1. Austin Museum of Art, Web site

2. Tipton, Karen. Clara Driscoll, Savior of the Alamo. "Texas Highways". 1995.

3. Faires, Robert. Austin Museum of Art: The third way explained. "The Austin Chronicle". February 29, 2008.

4. Friis-Hansen, Dana. Austin Museum of Art Brochure. 2008.

5. Friis-Hansen, Dana. Austin Museum of Art 2006 Report to the Community. 2007.

6. Faires, Robert. "Austin Arts". 2005.

External links

* [ Austin Museum of Art]

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