For 30 years, the imposing fortresslike façade of UT’s Harry Ransom Center made this repository of cultural artifacts about as inviting to visitors as the Bastille. But after a $14.5 million overhaul, the Ransom has a new, welcoming face. Glass panels across the front open up the entrance and allow natural light to illuminate and warm the interior, where spacious galleries beckon with items from the center’s astounding collection of 1 million rare books (including a Gutenberg Bible), 40 million manuscripts, 5 million photographs (including the world’s first), and 100,000 works of art. And since San Antonio design wizards Lake/Flato Architects Inc. saw fit to cover those glass panels out front with dozens of images from literature, art, theatre, and film, the HRC finally looks like what it is: a treasure chest of great works of art.
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