A $2 million gift for UT students to design immersive art experiences in new lab space

The new Buckman Center will allow students to create 'art to be felt and experienced instead of just viewed,' say donors Karl and Nelda Buckman.


A $2 million gift to the University of Texas from philanthropists Karl and Nelda Buckman will establish a new studio for students in the School of Design and Creative Technologies to experiment with designing immersive experiences.

Called the Buckman Center, the new research lab will be housed in the Doty Fine Arts Building and will be dedicated to the study of immersive media. The lab will provide students with a staging area to create semi-permanent installations and experiment with projects such as an immersive audio installation, a full room-size virtual reality experience or an interactive escape room.

Think immersive van Gogh exhibitions or opera in virtual reality.

“The center will create a way for art to be felt and experienced instead of just viewed,” said Nelda Buckman in press materials.

Michael Baker, chair of the Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies, said the center will introduce students to new technologies “to consider questions around the possibilities of augmented reality storytelling. How do we design experiences using interactive content in a physical space and across devices?”

Karl Buckman is a Tennessee businessman and philanthropist who came to Austin to be with Nelda, his wife of seven years. Nelda Buckman is a Texas-based producer, artist and investor who leads her Austin-based media and philanthropic organization Nelda Studios to lift, nurture and expand opportunities for creativity and the arts.

The $2 million gift is the largest to the School of Design and Creative Technologies to date.


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