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New Book Reveals the University of Texas at Austin’s Hidden Treasures

In the first thorough account of the collections at UT Austin, a new book spotlights more than 80 collections — some familiar and others virtually unknown outside their fields of research — acquired since the university’s inauguration in 1883.

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AUSTIN, Texas — In the first thorough account of the collections at The University of Texas at Austin, a new book from the University of Texas Press spotlights more than 80 collections — some familiar and others virtually unknown outside their fields of research — acquired since the university’s inauguration in 1883.  The book shows the university is the largest repository of cultural objects in the state and the largest in the U.S. in terms of the number of objects.

Edited by Andrée Bober with foreword by UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves and essay by Lewis Gould, the book will be published Jan. 22.

wood blocks

Antique Light Face Extended, The Hamilton Manufacturing Company. 1891–ca. 1920. The Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection, College of Fine Arts. Photo by Adam Voorhees

UT Austin has long been one of the world’s distinguished collecting universities, home to renowned institutions such as the Harry Ransom Center, the Blanton Museum of Art and the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Other collections have grown apart from the public eye, typically as the byproduct of research and pedagogical interests. The Collections offers an account of all the university’s irreplaceable artifacts, introducing each collection by outlining its history, highlighting its strengths and suggesting its educational function.

The Collections also reveals the scale and diversity of the holdings by bringing these materials together for the first time. With more than 170 million objects, the university outpaces the largest collections in America and rivals many in variety and importance. The book highlights materials held by some 40 academic and administrative units, and it covers a radical range of subjects — archaeology, ethnography, fine and performing arts, rare books and manuscripts, decorative arts, photography, film, music, popular and material culture, regional and political history, natural history, science and technology.

“The University of Texas at Austin is built on the core values of learning, expanding understanding, and creating knowledge. Celebrating the material holdings that support its mission, this book offers a chronicle of creativity and discovery fostered by the collections,” President Fenves states in his foreword.


Cramer’s eighty-eight (Diaethria clymena) Brazilian species. Collection: Freshwater and Terrestrial Invertebrates, Texas Natural Science Center. Photo by Mark Menjivar

Bober conceived this survey and organized more than 350 individuals to lend their expertise. She writes in the introduction, “Coming to understand the richness of Austin’s collections while working closely with so many people who share a passion for them has been an enormous privilege. I believe this book, whatever its lacunae, speaks eloquently to the university’s collecting strengths and the resources for scholarship and study that are publicly available.”

Included is a historical introduction by Lewis Gould, professor emeritus of American history. His essay traces the formation of the collections and acknowledges many people whose visions are manifest in these material resources.


Unanimous Declaration of Independence by the delegates of the People of Texas, in general convention at the town of Washington on March 2, 1836. Collection: Eugene C. Barker Texas History Collections, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Printed by Baker and Bordens, San Felipe de Austin


Andrée Bober is the founding director of Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin. Previously she served as deputy and then interim director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. Her publications include Landmarks, The University of Texas at Austin and Susan Unterberg: A Retrospective. She lives with her family in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The University of Texas Press, founded in 1950, is a scholarly press that is part of The University of Texas at Austin.

For more information about the book, please visit the UT Press website.

Release: January 2016, $125

9 7/8 x 12 inches, 720 pages, 807 color and 117 b&w illustrations

ISBN 978-1-4773-0785-4