Blanton Museum of Art to redesign exterior following $5 million donation

Neha Madhira

The Still Water Foundation donated $5 million to the Blanton Museum of Art to remodel the building’s exterior, according to a UT press release on Tuesday. 

The foundation donated an additional $5 million to Landmarks, UT’s public art program in the College of Fine Arts, which will help them create an endowment to expand educational initiatives, outreach to new and more diverse audiences and conservation and communications efforts, according to the press release.

Carlotta Stankiewicz, Blanton’s marketing and communications director, said the museum is in the process of redesigning the exterior of the building to give it more of an identity. Stankiewicz said the outdoor installation, “Austin,” by Ellsworth Kelly, elevated awareness of the Blanton in national and international media. 

“We want to make (the museum) more accessible,” Stankiewicz said. “The idea is that we have got this wonderful experience of art inside our galleries, so we want to bring that experience from indoors also to the outdoors.”

Stankiewicz said the exterior and the ground will be open and designed in a way to facilitate their different programs. 

“We do a lot of music programs and art-making, so we’ll be able to bring some of that outside as well,” Stankiewicz said. “We also want this to be (an area) where people can gather and have a nice community space as well.”

Stankiewicz said the renovations will complement a pedestrian mall that is being constructed across the street. The redesign will also form a much-needed connection between the University, the city of Austin and the Texas State Capitol Complex, according to the press release. 

Stankiewicz said the museum will release a blueprint of what the finished renovations will look like soon. She said there will be different branding and design elements that will announce an art experience that’s at the Blanton as a part of the renovations.

“We also want to emphasize that the Blanton will be open during the entire reconstruction process,” Stankiewicz said. “There may be some different pathways to get in, but we will be open the whole time.”

“Arts is one of our biggest areas of giving, so these donations line up perfectly with our values,” said Ellen Ray, the foundation’s executive director. “We are just excited to support Blanton and (UT’s School of Fine Arts), so they can create high-quality work that can be available to students and professors.”

Still Water is an Austin-based, private and family foundation, and it primarily donates to arts, education and the environment, Ray said. The foundation has also been a supporter of the Blanton for several years, according to the press release.

Mechanical engineering sophomore Peyton Liang said that she likes how Blanton is free for students. 

“(Blanton) provides students who may not have access to as many cultural aspects of the world or art, with that opportunity,” Liang said. “The fact that they are trying to accommodate it more for students is really nice.”