The Contemporary Austin is celebrating the Moody Pavilions, the first stage of a multi-year project to make its historic Laguna Gloria site more accessible.
The Moody Pavilions — so named in honor of a $3 million grant from the Moody Foundation — offer a new entrance to the 14-acres of lakeside sculpture gardens with the new pavilions structures offering amenities long unavailable at the site. A new site-specific sculpture by Jessica Stockholder is also prominently sited near the newly opened up front gate.
All the new features are part of the first phase of a master plan that is aimed at enhancing the Laguna Gloria grounds to make it more accessible for displaying outside art works and for accomodating increased visitors. As part of the first phase, significant landscape restoration work as already been underway, including the removal of invasive species of shrubs, vines, and trees from throughout Laguna Gloria’s fourteen acres.
Housed inside the modern, steel and glass structures designed by Trahan Architects of New Orleans, are a visitor center, a museum shop, and an outdoor café. The new pavilion structures are arranged around the historic gatehouse which has been retrofitted to add a few museum offices and some much-needed new, modern restrooms and locker facilities for visitors.
The café and shop are connected by a canopy-covered pathway and surrounded by lush landscaping designed by Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects of Boston, the firm charged with overseeing the entire Laguna Gloria master plan.
Épicerie at The Contemporary is led by celebrated Austin chef and restaurateur Sarah McIntosh. It offers French-Cajun light to-go fare along with coffee, wine and desserts, and outdoor café seating is available.
A key component of the new Moody Pavilions, the Shop at The Contemporary features an interior designed as a singular sculptural installation, “Untitled,” 2019, by artist Liam Gillick (British, born 1964).
Gillick’s architectural intervention functions as a fully operable museum gift shop. “Untitled,” is composed of modular shelves and cubes arranged around a circular desk and display case, all painted in cadmium red. Walls are painted a light gray.
“This is a semi-autonomous artwork that is intended to operate in tension with my other work,” said Gillick in a statement. “It is a store — it is a display system — it is a constructed art object. With a lot of my artwork, it is not clear where the moment of significance might be located. It could be in a small book rather than a large sculpture. The same is true with this project.”
A quote from rapper Theophilus London, fills one of the shop’s wall in Gillick’s signature font: “Shopping at any level is a bit of therapy for my medulla oblongata….”
Explained Gillick in a statement: “I am interested in the semiotics of the built world. Therefore, I have always tried to find a way to unsettle or intervene within existing structures.”
Gillick’s sparse, semi-functional sculptural installations typically allude to conceptual conceits of midcentury modernist architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, as well as twentieth-century Minimalist sculptors including Donald Judd and Carl Andre. His sleek “Raised Laguna Discussion Platform (Job #1073),” was one of the first new sculptural installations the museum exhibited when it launched the Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria in 2013. The museum acquired the artwork in 2014.
With its new amenities museum is also launching new hours at Laguna Gloria:
- 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday–Wednesday
- 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday
- 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday–Sunday
Commissioned by the Contemporary Austin, Jessica Stockholder’s installation “Save on select landscape & outdoor lighting: Song to mind uncouples” sits prominently just inside the entrance of Laguna Gloria grounds. Assembled from prefabricated street lamps, grating, and bollards, the colorful installation is a viewing platform for visitors to explore.
In addition to the grant from The Moody Foundation, the recent project was funded through more than $3 million in total grants from the Still Water Foundation, Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, Austin Community Foundation, and O’Shaughnessy-Rivers Fund, along with gifts from board Trustees Jeanne and Mickey Klein, Kathleen Irvin Loughlin and Chris Loughlin, and Jannette and Pat Keating.