Texas Museums and Galleries

Establishment neighborhood
Cy Twombly Gallery
1501 Branard St., Montrose
Just across the street from the Menil’s main building, the Cy Twombly Gallery pays tribute to the late modern artist best known for his enormous, graffiti-esque abstract paintings. Opened in 1995, the museum is another Renzo Piano commission, and sticks faithfully to the Menil’s minimalist aesthetic of natural light, wooden ceilings, and white oak floors. Inside, you’ll find a retrospective of Twombly’s impressive career dating, from 1953 to 2004, with a collection of paintings and sculptures handpicked by the artist himself.
Rothko Chapel
1533 Sul Ross St, Montrose
This small church in the compound of the Menil Collection doubles as a gallery for fourteen all-black tableaux by Mark Rothko. The somber paintings create a haunting, womblike interior that has a way of bringing instant calm to the spirit and the mind. The church is sparsely outfitted with a few wooden benches and a skylight to let just enough natural light seep in without disturbing the peaceful gloominess. There are weekly events for the Zen-minded, like sound meditations and yoga on the plaza, but a moment alone is the best way to experience it all.
Mexic-Arte Museum
419 Congress Ave., Downtown
This museum, an Austin establishment for over 30 years, celebrates Mexican and Mexican American fine art. Its offerings range from contemporary art—their shows are culturally on point, illuminating perspectives on the human toll of the conflict in the borderlands—to community engagement events, like its annual Día de los Muertos exhibitions, and its annual Young Latino Artists showcase. The contemporary works span from impressive, imposing sculpture to street-art-style murals to super-modern mixed-media works—truly an immersive experience, essential to understanding what Austin is all about.
Icosa Collective
916 Springdale Rd., Govalle
A collective of twenty Austin-based visual artists converted a recently vacated auto shop into a cooperative gallery in 2016. Visually, the space is impressive: The edifice opens garage-door-style onto the open-air, 1,500-square-foot interior. But what really impresses here is the work on display, created largely by local contemporary artists, the proceeds of whose sales also help support the space. From astounding sculpture to vibrant, abstract paintings, their holdings are right on the edge of the indie-to-emerging art world—there’s always something incredible by an up-and-comer to take in during the Saturday open-to-the-public hours (they’re open by appointment 12-5 on weekdays), plus community-focused events on the regular.
Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora St., Downtown
Adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art and open to the public since 2003, this private collection, owned by the Nasher family, is one of the most stunning in the world, including works by everyone from Auguste Rodin and Paul Gauguin to Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, and Tony Smith. The grounds match the work with a sprawling garden by Peter Walker and a glass Renzo Piano pavilion that barely interrupts the landscape. And not to be missed (from May until October): The Nasher hosts the ’til Midnight program, staying open late for film screenings and outdoor concerts.
Dallas Museum of Art
1717 N. Harwood St., Downtown
The permanent art collection here cannot be dismissed: There are Monets, Manets, and Rauschenbergs, plus one of the largest Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections in the country. But all that said, the museum’s design and local crafts holdings from around the world are just as impressive, from pre-Columbian artifacts to African masks and ceremonial attire to Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Chair. Admission is free. Photo courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art.
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