Building Our Future
The Contemporary Austin is in the midst of a dynamic transformation. As one museum with two distinct locations, The Contemporary is a vital part of city life.
Laguna Gloria, the museum’s fourteen-acre campus on the shores of Lake Austin, offers visitors a unique art-in-nature experience, with opportunities for the public to explore art and the creative process through installations and exhibitions by preeminent international artists, dynamic events and community programs for all ages, and classes at the Art School. Since fall 2013, The Contemporary Austin has been actively engaged in the revitalization of this beloved site through its Master Plan for Laguna Gloria.
The Jones Center on Congress Avenue, the museum’s gallery space in downtown Austin, presents exhibitions by acclaimed contemporary artists and a full calendar of cultural opportunities in an architecturally significant building. The Contemporary Austin recently completed major renovations of the downtown site, including a significant expansion of gallery space and the addition of The Moody Rooftop.
Through these two locations and the museum’s growing Museum Without Walls program, which brings contemporary art out into the city in unexpected ways and places, The Contemporary Austin aims to integrate art into the rich cultural fabric of the community.
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Master Plan for Laguna Gloria
In fall 2013, the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation awarded The Contemporary Austin a $9 million grant to support the creation of the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria. Presently, the recognized landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand is engaged in a Master Plan that will transform Laguna Gloria into an exceptional space for the public to experience art in a vibrant natural setting.
To date, the site has featured sculptures by an array of internationally acclaimed artists as part of its permanent collection and rotating temporary installations, among them Ai Weiwei, Terry Allen, Tom Friedman, Roger Hiorns, Nancy Holt, Anya Gallaccio, Orly Genger, Jim Lambie, Paul McCarthy, Yoko Ono, Tom Sachs, Monika Sosnowska, Do Ho Suh, Marianne Vitale, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Through the Master Plan for Laguna Gloria, The Contemporary Austin seeks to create a campus that is richly useful for the local community and supportive of ambitious collaborations with artists and curators. Through careful planning, Laguna Gloria will continue to evolve into an extraordinary cultural destination that showcases sound stewardship of the native Texas landscape and engages new audiences with contemporary art and culture.
Reed Hilderbrand was recognized with the 2017 Excellence Award in Analysis and Planning from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects for its ongoing work at the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria.
Phase I will increase accessibility and enhance experiences with art through a more visible and inviting entrance experience and enhancements to pedestrian safety. This will include building a series of new WELCOME PAVILIONS and COVERED TERRACES that include:
- Shaded orientation and gathering spaces
- A Café and Visitor Center, including an art-filled design shop
- New restroom and locker facilities
Also in 2017, as part of Phase I of the Master Plan, The Contemporary Austin has begun the process of removing invasive shrubs, vines, and trees from throughout Laguna Gloria’s fourteen acres. The INVASIVE SPECIES REMOVAL PROJECT will leave a dramatic mark on the landscape that will:
- Open sightlines for outdoor sculptures
- Encourage native species to thrive
- Preserve heritage trees
- Restore the ecological health of Laguna Gloria
Renovation: Jones Center on Congress Avenue
The Contemporary Austin recently completed major renovations of its downtown site, the Jones Center on Congress Avenue, including significant expansion of and enhancements to its gallery spaces and the addition of The Moody Rooftop. This major renovation was made possible by a $1.3 million grant awarded to The Contemporary Austin in 2015.
In December 2016, The Contemporary Austin celebrated the Grand Reopening of the Jones Center and the debut of The Moody Rooftop—now transformed into a signature destination for cultural events in the community, overlooking the busy Congress Avenue corridor. The rooftop’s open-air canopy with weather-proofing options will allow the museum to offer additional public programs and host a range of events and community gatherings year round.
In addition, increased gallery space and a range of gallery enhancements now allow The Contemporary Austin to accommodate larger exhibitions and to conform to the American Alliance of Museums standards for the handling and exhibition of artwork.
The Jones Center renovation was led by Paul Lewis of LTL Architects, who led the original building renovation in 2008.
The Contemporary Austin’s decision to retrofit the existing building at the Jones Center represents sound stewardship of the museum’s resources and a deeper commitment to serving the community. The improvements have contributed to the revitalization of downtown Austin and the Congress Avenue cultural corridor, and increase the museum’s capacity to offer programming for and to reach diverse audiences.
IMAGE (top): Rendering of Laguna Gloria Master Plan Phase I, Visitor Pavilions, 2017. Courtesy Reed Hilderbrand.