In one of the largest single donations Austin arts community, the Moody Foundation has donated $20 million to the Blanton Museum of Art for its master plan to redesign the museum’s exterior spaces.
“We are deeply grateful to Blanton National Leadership Board member Elle Moody for being an ardent champion of the museum and to the full board of the Foundation for their visionary investment in this transformative project,” said Blanton director Simone Wicha.
Details of the Blanton master plan are expected to be released this summer. The design will reshape much of the exterior area surrounding Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” and the two buildings that comprise the Blanton: the Michener Gallery Building and the Edgar A. Smith Building which houses the museum’s café shop, auditorium, and administrative offices. The goal of the master plan is to create a more versatile space for public programming.
The Blanton has been challenged by an awkward site plan since its opening in its new buildings in 2006. Its main public entrance to Michener Gallery Building is buried underneath a long portico and face an interior tree-filled alleé between to museum’s two building. The entrance is not apparent from the busy Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on which the museum sits.
The new Blanton master plan is in development by the New York office of renowned architecture firm Snøhetta. Co-founded by Craig Edward Dykers and Elaine Molinar, both graduates of the University of Texas’ School of Architecture, Snøhetta has garnered top honors for its projects that included Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Oslo Opera House and the National September 11 Museum at the World Trade Center site. Dykers and Molinar will be honored with a 2019 Texas Medal of the Arts in March.
The Glaveston-based Moody Foundation has given notable sums in Austin for park projects and museum master plans. In 2017, the Moody Foundation gifted $15 million to the Waller Creek Conservancy for an architecturally breathtaking amphitheater — the largest philanthropic gift ever to Austin’s parks. A few months later, the foundation donated $9.7 million to Pease Park Conservancy, for the first phase of a comprehensive plan for the Central Austin park’s restoration. At the Contemporary Austin’s Laguna Gloria campus, the soon-to-open Moody Pavilions, a new entrance pavilion with a cafe and other visitor amenities, is so named for a $3 million grant from the Moody Foundation.