The former site of the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art in the Art Building is undergoing major renovation to house a new contemporary art hub, the Visual Arts Center (VAC) in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin.
The newly renovated space, designed by renowned architects Lake | Flato, will house exhibitions, educational instruction and research within the Department of Art and Art History. The construction is scheduled for completion in spring 2010, and the VAC will open its doors for its premiere exhibition in September 2010.
Since March 2007, Lake | Flato has been working with the university to create an innovative renovation for the department. The VAC space is a central component of this remodel. It is prominently placed to serve as the hub of creative, academic and social life for visual art students with exhibitions, lectures, symposia, the Maya Meetings at Texas, art-related conferences and much more. In addition, there will be a prominent entrance to the Art Building, elevating the overall physical look and changing the face of the department’s home.
“This dynamic new facility will draw students, professors, scholars and the public together to explore the visual arts within the department and beyond,” said John Yancey, chair of the Department of Art and Art History. “Graduate students will, for the first time, have premier spaces for research and production. All four divisions (art history, design, studio art and visual arts studies/art education) will share the benefits of this facility.”
When completed, the Visual Arts Center will have a state-of-the-art exhibition venue, along with a new outdoor courtyard for a variety of programming. The new exhibition galleries will present a year-round schedule of exhibitions from faculty, students, alumni and visiting artists. The outdoor courtyard will function as a multi-use space where audiences can view outdoor installation, sculpture, video and time-based art. The entire facility will be available for the campus and larger community to attend exhibitions, events and activities.
“The Visual Arts Center will provide a home from which all department exhibitions, events and activities will flourish,” said Jade Walker, director of the Visual Arts Center and curator of the Courtyard Gallery at the ATandT Executive Education and Conference Center. “It will not only exist as a departmental exhibition space, but also as one of the leading contemporary arts spaces in Texas.”
The new graduate student studio spaces will allow students to pursue studio practice in printmaking, design, transmedia and photography. These studio spaces will be adjacent to the gallery and exhibition space, allowing interaction and exchange. Along with the new entrance for the Art Building, there will be a new main lobby and a new administrative suite. All of these facilities will allow access to exhibition spaces, administration, classrooms, lecture halls, studios and faculty offices.
The new home for the Mesoamerica Center will be adjacent to the studio spaces allowing students and scholars to gather and research the latest developments in the art, writing and history of Mesoamerica in a setting that encourages discussion and exchange.