The McNay Art Museum has launched Phase I of a $6.25 million landscape master plan designed to make the 23-acre site more accessible and attractive, as well as adding more outdoor art, officials said.
A groundbreaking was held Sept. 4.
“By physically opening up the McNay to our entire community, we are honoring the legacy of our founder, Marion Koogler McNay,” said museum Director Richard Aste.
During construction, hedges along the McNay property line will be replaced with aesthetic fencing, drought-resistant plants, vibrant florals, dozens of native trees, scenic walkways, meditative seating areas and enhanced lighting.
Other improvements include increased access for pedestrians, bicyclists and those protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Thanks to a $2 million donation from the Mays Family Foundation, the greenspace at the corner of Austin Highway and North New Braunfels Avenue will become a park featuring landscaping and outdoor works of art including Ascent, by Russian-born American sculptor Alexander Liberman.
The area will be known as the Mays Family Park.
“The Mays Foundation is honored to help bring the museum’s two loves — art and education — to all of San Antonio through an even more inclusive experience,” said foundation Chairman Peggy Pitman Mays. “It has been an artistic force in our community.”
The North New Braunfels and Austin Highway entrances will be reimagined with enhanced signage, plantings, walkways and new roads, creating easier and safer two-way traffic, planners said.
The stainless-steel Victoria sculpture by Philip Grausman, formerly located near the Austin Highway entrance, will be relocated closer to the museum entryway.
The museum will remain open during the renovations, which are scheduled to be completed by next spring. A 10-year beautification fund is also included in the budget to ensure all plants are maintained.
Phase II of the plan is in the early development stage. Details are to come.
“This moment honors the legacy and spirit of my father, Tom Frost, and his priceless contributions to this beloved San Antonio institution as a lifetime trustee and chairman of the board,” said major contributor Don Frost. “The Frost family has always championed the McNay as a community oasis of peace, beauty, hope and inspiration.”
The Frost Family and Frost Bank gave $500,000 and the Semmes Foundation Inc. also contributed $500,000.
In addition, major funding for the McNay Museum’s Landscape Master Plan was provided by the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, which donated $1 million.
“So many entities rebrand, but nothing really changes. We have been honored to invest in support of the truly transformational work that Rich Aste and his board are providing for our entire community,” said Kronkosky Charitable Foundation Managing Director Tullos Wells. “If you have not recently been to the McNay, you need to go to the McNay.”
The former Spanish Colonial Revival home of artist and educator McNay was built in the 1920s and debuted as Texas’ first museum of modern art in 1954. It offers varied exhibitions as well as rotating displays in the main collection galleries, with 20,000 works of art.
More than 200,000 visitors every year enjoy works by modern masters including Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.
The 45,000-square-foot Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions was designed by renowned French architect Jean-Paul Viguier and features three significant exhibitions every year. The grounds include sculptures by Robert Indiana, Luis A. Jimenez Jr., George Rickey, Joel Shapiro and Kiki Smith.
“During World War II, when our country needed more beauty and inspiration than ever, Marion Koogler McNay shared her home and world-renowned modern art collection with students and soldiers across San Antonio,” Aste said. “Seventy-five years later, her commitment to excellence and inclusion has helped position the McNay for the next all-embracing chapter.”
Other dignitaries at the groundbreaking included District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry and McNay board President Toby Calvert.