The Austin Chronicle


By Robert Faires, September 6, 2002, Arts

AMOA Museum Wins $100K

The capital campaign for the Austin Museum of Art's long-proposed -- and long-delayed -- permanent downtown facility received a major shot in the arm last week with the announcement of a $100,000 gift from Wells Fargo & Co. The corporate donation, which was engineered by AMOA CEO Bill McLellan, is the largest the campaign has seen in a year and a sign that the project hasn't been given up for dead. On the contrary, AMOA has been hard at work reconfiguring the facility to make it feasible in the current economic climate. In consultation with architect Richard Gluckman, the museum staff and board have taken the original $65 million, 140,000-sq.-foot design, which was to fill the entire block bounded by Guadalupe, West Third, San Antonio, and West Fourth streets, and reworked it so it might be built in phases, with the initial core facility costing around $40 million. They'll also be consulting with Nancy Pressly and Associates, a Washington, D.C., firm specializing in strategic planning with museums (and which has worked in the past with both the Blanton Museum of Art and Texas Fine Arts Association), to develop a new plan for bringing the dream to reality.

But while AMOA still sees the downtown facility in its future, its focus for the present is its old home Laguna Gloria, which is in the midst of a major renovation. Earlier this year, that project got under way in earnest thanks to a $1.1 million loan from Liberty Bank, secured with the help of some key AMOA patrons who put up the collateral, and as the project is reportedly on time and under budget, AMOA is putting a big push on Laguna Gloria internally. According to museum director Dana Friis-Hansen, they expect to be back in the villa in June, 2003.

What a difference a year makes. Last September, the year for AMOA was all about board and staff resignations, staff layoffs, and projects stalling out. In the 12 months since, the museum has seen Friis-Hansen taking the helm, Maurilla King join the staff as development director, Laguna Gloria moving forward, a pair of landmark exhibitions ("The Road to Aztlan" and "22 to Watch"), and now new momentum in the campaign for a new downtown museum.

Arts on the Tube

Anyone who spends any time watching local television knows that if not for Jim Swift, coverage of Austin's arts scene would be next to non-existent. This week sees that changing a little for the better as FOX/KTBC 7 inaugurates a new feature titled Capital Culture, hosted by Lance Morgan. The twice-weekly segment, which starts Sept. 4 and airs Wednesdays during the 5pm newscast and Thursdays during FOX 7 News in the Morning, 5-8am, will offer a look at Austin music, art, dance, television, filmmaking, publishing, media, architecture, design, and more. Interviews with Betty Sue Flowers of the LBJ Library, Dave Fleming of the Long Center, and Hartt Stearns of One World Theatre, are on the schedule. For info, visit

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