Austin Museum Day: a community celebration of art and history


Camille Mayor / Hilltop Views

You can find Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Austinites roamed the city on Sept. 23 for the annual Austin Museum Day. Several museums offered free admission to encourage visitors to commemorate art, history and community.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum featured volunteers in costume, reenacting historical figures and teaching visitors about Texas history. Many volunteers help at the museum throughout the year, while others offer their time once a year on Museum Day.

The first floor of the museum featured a new rodeo installment, with artifacts and interactive kiosks telling the stories of men and women who contributed to the settlement and rodeo culture of Texas. The second and third floors led visitors through time, from the settlement of Texas to the beginning of Austin City Limits.

Museum Day at the Bob Bullock relies heavily on volunteers, who helped to direct visitors and hand out pamphlets on Texas history. One volunteer, Bill Gibson, said he volunteered to feed his interest in art. Gibson volunteers every Sunday and Wednesday, and as Museum Day fell on a Sunday, he offered additional information on exhibits and directions to visitors.

When asked how the visitor turnout on Museum Day compared to the turnout on a regular weekend, Gibson explained that while the museum was typically lively, there seemed to be over twice as many visitors on Museum Day.

“The response of the community has been incredible,” Gibson said. “I like seeing people get out and come together for something uplifting and fun.”

Gibson has been volunteering at Austin museums since 2016 ever since he moved back from Washington, D.C.

“D.C. is all about politics and talking to people,” Gibson explained. “I’m a chemist, and I’ve never been much good at that, I prefer to spend time thinking. But D.C. has really wonderful museums, so my wife and I would go to as many as we could. It was a good way to clear my head and enjoy the peace and quiet.”

The Blanton Museum of Art features historical, classical and contemporary art. The Blanton seemed to be the most popular museum of the day. Visitors of all ages waited outside the doors for the museum to open at noon. Museum volunteers stood by the entrance and offered sketchbooks to visitors. A crowd of onlookers quickly gathered by one of The Blanton’s most popular installations: Missão/Missões by Cildo Meireles.

Visitors at the Contemporary Austin- Jones Center admired abstract and contemporary art exhibits and installations. In celebration of Austin’s Museum Day, stations were set up throughout the museum where visitors could make crafts and create art. Rainbow scratch offs and art supplies were available for visitors who wanted a hands-on experience for Museum Day.