Calendar-year 2013 was a banner year for the Blanton Museum of Art
at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to hosting a 50th Anniversary celebration, the museum presented a range of world-class exhibitions and dynamic public programs, and launched a new brand and graphic identity. Attendance was at an all time high, with the Blanton welcoming its one-millionth visitor since opening its doors in 2006. Virtual visitation via the museums website and engagement with its social media platforms was similarly high. This year offered many opportunities for the Blanton to deliver on the promise of its new brand to provide thought-provoking, visually arresting, and personally moving art experiences for every visitor.
With over 158,000 visitors, 2013 was the Blantons best-attended year to date. Highlights included 10,000 visitors to the museums Fifty Fest celebration last April, over 9,000 attendees to Januarys Sand Mandala Project (where Tibetan monks created a sand mandala in the Blantons atrium), 4,300 children and their families to the museums summer family programming, and the Blantons one-millionth visitor in September. Additionally, there were over 815,000 visits to the museums website, and high engagement levels with its social media platforms. The Blantons membership program also held strong in 2013 with over 5,300 member households, making it one of the largest membership programs of any university art museum in the country.
Last February, the Blanton opened the critically acclaimed Through the Eyes of Texas, an exhibition that highlighted masterworks from the private collections of UT alumni. Featuring objects from around the globe, the presentation included a Roman bust from the 2nd century AD, a Monet Water Lillies painting, and modern and contemporary works from Picasso to Kehinde Wiley. Last summers Lifelike showcased a range of contemporary artists who use unusual materials to create startlingly reallooking objects, from an 8-foot painted bronze milk carton to a life-size recreation of a 1970s kitchen. Organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the exhibition proved to be an audience favorite for young and old alike.
The Blanton rounded out the calendar year this fall with two dynamic and strikingly different exhibitions, Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings from 1475-1540 and The Nearest Air: A Survey of Works by Waltercio Caldas. These exhibitions underscored the Blantons ongoing partnerships with some of the most significant museums in the world. Imperial Augsburg brought to the Blanton prints and drawings from the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and a 16th-century suit of armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Likewise, The Nearest Air, which showcased four decades of work from one of Brazils leading contemporary artists, was developed in partnership with the Fundação Iberê Camargo in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
The Blanton served over 26,000 visitors this year through a wide range of public programs. From lectures by nationally celebrated curators to a beer tasting with local brewers, there was something for everyone. The museum launched a revitalized film series, two new tour formats (Art Gazes and Art Glimpses), and a new music program, Beat The Rush, featuring curated musical responses to works in the Blantons collection. The Bach Cantata music series, a longstanding collaboration between the Blanton and UTs Butler School of Music, was renamed Midday Music Series and expanded to include a variety of genres and accommodate a broader range of musical tastes. The museums SoundSpace program, deemed the most successful new music event in the city by the Austin American-Statesman, continued, as did the Blantons ever-popular B scene art parties, held quarterly.