How to Celebrate Austin Museum Day 2020

In person and virtual events abound on the city' annual free museum day

Here comes the 23rd annual Austin Museum Day, citizen, that free celebration of art, culture, history, music, nature, and science – with local bastions of all that good stuff professionally curated and ready for you to explore. Yes, this Sunday it's time once again to enjoy a little heightened entertainment and education around our river city – all gratis!

Ah, but there is a pandemic on, don’tcha know? So only some of the participating museums will be open to the public on Sept. 20 for visiting in person to see the exhibits and engage in an array of lively activities. The Blanton Museum, for instance, with those lettered-up drumskins of Ed Ruscha’s on the welcoming walls. The Austin Museum of Popular Culture. Umlauf Sculpture Garden. Oh, and there’s more. But there are even more repositories of human industry and creativity participating in a Virtual Museum Day this year, with all manner of livestreamed fun things to do (craft projects, virtual tours, gallery talks, and so on) throughout the day – including resources that you can access at any time that works for you, right from the comfort of your own home. In addition to livestreamed events, there are also always-accessible digital archives for people to visit. Check the website for details, of course – and know that some galleries around town are unofficially offering nifty stuff during the day, too, and those galleries include:, Nebula Gallery, MAW Gallery, Museum of the Weird, Wyld Gallery, A05 Gallery, and CAMBIAart.

Yes, the pesky ’ronas may make things a bit problematic for all concerned, but they can’t stop human ingenuity! And human ingenuity is much of what’s on display (and ready for your interaction with it) as Austin Museum Day 2020 reveals itself to an arts-loving public.

Keep reading for this year's lineup, courtesy of the Austin Museum Partnership, and check out this week's print issue on Thursday for recommended Museum Day activities. – Wayne Alan Brenner

Austin Museum Day 2020

Sunday, Sept. 20, 9am-5pm

All information is sourced from the Austin Museum Day website or provided by galleries. All information subject to change; readers are strongly encouraged to contact museums to verify information is up to date.

In-Person Events

Art in Public Places, City of Austin Cultural Arts Division

Enjoy a self-guided outdoor tour of Austin’s Art in Public Places collection that is concentrated in downtown. Noon-6pm.

Austin Museum of Popular Culture

AusPop is currently hosting an exhibition celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Armadillo World Headquarters. Make a reservation to visit in person; open 1-6pm by appointment only. Watch interviews on Facebook at

photo by John Andersoon

Blanton Museum of Art

The Blanton is free for Austin Museum Day 2020, open 2-5pm. ADVANCE TIMED TICKETS are required. Please note, the museum is limiting capacity and will not be able to accommodate walkups. Make sure to reserve your tickets to visit the recently re-opened museum and see old favorites and new works. Exhibitions on view include Ed Ruscha: Drum Skins, The Artist at Work, and the museum’s permanent collection galleries of modern and contemporary American and Latin American art as well as classics and European art. (As of press time, tickets are sold out for Museum Day.)

Brush Square Museums

Museums are closed but you can follow the famous O. Henry’s footsteps through Downtown Austin on this walking tour exploring his historic haunts along the way:,,

image via

Flower Hill Urban Homestead Museum

Join the Flower Hill Urban Homestead Museum for a self-guided tour of our 1.38 acres of historic Texas Wildscape. Self-guided tours of the grounds will be offered by appointment only via the website. Tours will be scheduled every 30 minutes from 11am-2pm for 10 guests or fewer. Masks are required for entry to the grounds. Parking for this event available at the West Side Village Parking Lot (1312 W. 6th St.). PLEASE NOTE: There is NO parking on Flower Hill's grounds; accessible parking and access information available upon request. Visit the reservation link to reserve your spot:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Discover late-summer blooms, Texas trees and trails at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, or enjoy an audio tour from anywhere. In-person tickets required, advance reservations and availability is limited. 9am-5pm.

Landmarks Public Art Program

Join Landmarks for a self-guided, socially distant tour across campus on your smartphone. If you’re not near campus you can still take the tour virtually from home. On this 40-minute tour, you’ll learn about several key works of art sited along Speedway, UT’s main pedestrian thoroughfare. Included are modern and contemporary sculptures that span different decades and artistic movements, and that feature a variety of materials and styles.

Millett’s Opera House

Captain Charles Millett  (1832-1890) built and opened and then managed  Millett’s Opera House in 1878 at 110 East 9th Street as Austin’s first state of the art performing arts venue. More than 140 years later, Millett’s Opera House remains a remarkably beautiful, welcoming performing arts venue that regularly hosts performing artists. Tours of our facility will be conducted on the hour every hour starting at 11 am with the last one occurring at 3pm and will last approximately 45 minutes each.

Neill-Cochran House Museum

Open on Austin Museum Day, 11am-4pm. This year the Neill-Cochran House Museum has a virtual 360 tour of our current exhibit “If These Walls Could Talk.” Additionally, guests can reserve in person entry tickets and a time to visit the museum in advance at We will also have our lawn open to socially distant activities and shaded space for a peaceful lunch. We can’t wait to see you!

Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms

Experience the 1800s in Texas like no place else, with new exhibits including a Freedman’s House under restoration, talk to settlers in their log cabins, see Longhorn cattle and farm animals, take guided tours, walk nature trails, hear live music, see blacksmiths and other artisans at work and more — in a safe outdoor setting. No cabin fever here, just cabins — and family fun. 10am-5pm.

Save Austin’s Cemeteries (Historic Oakwood Cemetery) and Oakwood Chapel

Take your own self-guided walking tour at Historic Oakwood Cemetery, which is the final resting place of many people who participated in the Texas Revolution from October 1835 to April 1836. Residents of Oakwood were present at every important moment during the Revolution – they fought at Gonzales, Bexar, and helped defeat Santa Anna at San Jacinto. Two men narrowly escaped death at the massacre of Goliad and Susannah Dickenson survived the Alamo. Following the Revolution, many of these individuals were instrumental in building the Republic and their legacy can be seen in present day Austin.,

Texas Military Forces Museum

The Texas Military Forces Museum will be open to the public on September 20 for Austin Museum Day with limited visitors allowed inside. Be sure to look for the special Museum Day scavenger hunt. Also, check out this exhibit video showing the life of a 36th Infantry Division soldier in WWII.

photo by Jana Birchum

UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum

Join us 11am-4pm at UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum as we celebrate Austin Museum Day with hourly public tours from our experienced docents, scavenger hunts, and close looking sensory tours for the whole family! UMLAUF is open for up to 30 visitors at a time, so reserve your free admission today on our website.

The Williamson Museum

Mourning dates back to the beginning of human existence. The Victorians expanded on the traditions of mourning and made them part of their highly structured system of etiquette. Visit The Williamson Museum 1-4pm and experience our new exhibit that remembers and embraces mental health through a moment of grief.

Livestream Schedule

Sunday, Sept. 20, 9am-5pm

image via

9:15am: Women & Their Work

9:30am: Texas Memorial Museum

10am: Bullock Texas State History Museum

10:30am: Flower Hill Urban Homestead Museum

11am: The Williamson Museum

11:15am: LBJ Presidential Library

11:30am: Austin Museum of Popular Culture

noon: Mexic-Arte Museum

12:30pm: Neill-Cochran House Museum

1pm: Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, "Viva Mexico" (live on their site 1-3pm)

1:30pm: Elisabet Ney Museum, "Look at Me!" portraiture (live on their site 2-4pm)

2:10pm: Dougherty Arts Center, live studio sessions (live on their site 2-4pm)

Digital Resources

image via

Art Galleries at Black Studies,,

Asian American Resource Center – City of Austin

"Colonized Women" digital exhibit

Austin History Center

"Hidden Austin: Stories from the Original Square Mile" digital exhibit

Blanton Museum of Art

#ArtWhereYouAre Studio: Louise Nevelson video, #ArtWhereYouAre Studio: Richard Long video; #ArtWhereYouAre Studio: Joan Mitchell video

Briscoe Center for American History

The Contemporary Austin

Harry Ransom Center

"Ransom in a Minute" video


Videos on the mechanics of gerrymandering, the Huntington-Hill Method of Calculating Congressional Apportionment , and more

Millett’s Opera House

Pioneer Farms

photo by John Anderson

Texas State Capitol, Texas Capitol Visitors Center, Texas State Cemetery

Virtual tours,

Save Austin’s Cemeteries and Oakwood Chapel

"To Vote" digital exhibit,

Visual Arts Center

Unofficial Events

A05 Gallery

Gallery and custom framing studio open for regular business hours: Sunday, 12pm-5pm; Monday, 10am-6pm; Thursday-Saturday, 10am-6pm; Tuesday-Wednesday, by appointment only.

Art 84

Art 84 and Fisterra Projects announce a new exhibit by Austin artist Cornelius Carter titled Work in Progress. The exhibit captures the struggle and glory of the African-American experience along with the artist’s faith in the American dream of equality and opportunity for all. We share that faith, and we support all the people who are working so hard today to make the dream a reality.

CAMBIAart Gallery

CAMIBAart specializes in concept driven contemporary art with a focus on materials, an emphasis on the quality of craft, and an attention to detail. The gallery works with designers, consultants and collectors at all levels of interest to find the right work of art. Hours: Thursday through Saturday, 11am-6pm. HOWEVER, the gallery is currently open by appointment only using our online scheduler (visit the website) or via email or phone.

The MAW Gallery

Gallery open 11am-4pm, or by appointment. The MAW Gallery’s online library includes video, glossaries and our latest series, An Open Book.

Museum of the Weird

While we are still open, we have been strictly enforcing our social distancing and mask policy, and can only allow a limited number of people in the museum at a time. Currently we are open 7 days a week, 10am to 7pm for now. Tickets can be purchased in the shop, or reserved in advance on

The Nebula Gallery

Purveyors of Contemporary Art in the heart of 2nd Street District. By appointment only: 512-546-3963.

Wyld Gallery

Original Native American artwork gallery. Open Friday from 1-6 and Saturday 1-6. If those periods don’t work for you, you can contact Ray and he will get back to you for an appointment: [email protected].

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  


Austin Museum Day

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle