©2006 ACVB Photo/Ballet Austin You can see performances by Ballet Austin at the Bass Concert Hall.

Austin Arts & Culture

You quickly learn this town takes its art very seriously as soon as you step off the plane at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Music- and Texas-themed art are located all around the airport, including in the baggage claim area. It's a fun introduction to the city.

With the influx of high tech money from "Dellionaires" -- those early employees of Dell, Inc. who reaped the tremendous benefits of multiple stock splits -- other generous benefactors, and enthusiastic city and community support, Austin's arts scene has really exploded in recent years.

The recently opened Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art is the biggest art news to hit Austin in some time, finally bringing together disparate collections from the University of Texas into one centralized location on campus. The Austin Museum of Art's two locations (South Congress and AMOA-Laguna Gloria on West 35th St) are both must-visit stops. The downtown location focuses primarily on 20th-century and contemporary art, whereas the Laguna Gloria location, the museum's original, focuses on the juxtaposition of art and nature.

Even kids get into the act at the Austin Children's Museum and Dell Discovery Center. This very cool museum features tons of hands-on activities, science exhibits, and even an "Austin Kiddie Limits" soundstage where kids can dress up like rock stars and pretend they're part of the show.

Austin is also home to a number of independent galleries, many of which are housed on the University of Texas campus, as well as a few new ones in the Second Street District, including the Shorelines Gallery (221 West Second St) with jewelry, glass art, wood and metal sculpture, bronze sculpture, lithographs, and original paintings.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Arts & Culture in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Arts & Culture in Austin

Austin is home to many great museums, including the city's newest crown jewel -- the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art (MLK at Congress Avenue, on the University of Texas at Austin campus), which opened in April 2006 and is owned by the University of Texas. It covers 180,000 square feet, making it the largest university art museum in the country, and the third largest art museum in Texas. Stellar permanent exhibits include the Contemporary Latin American Art Collection, the Mari and James A. Michener Collection of 20th Century American Art, and the museum's print and drawing collection. The Blanton's permanent collection includes more than 12,000 works of art that span the history of Western civilization.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum (1800 North Congress Ave) is another must-see attraction, where visitors can get their fill of Texas history and have lunch at the museum's cafe. This fun museum features exhibits and interactive experiences that trace Texas history from before European exploration to the early 1970s. Don't miss the Star of Destiny theater show, visitors' seats shake while watching a gusher from a Texas oil derrick and the takeoff of a Saturn V rocket!

The long-awaited and well-funded Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts (501 West Third St) is under construction now and will eventually replace the former Palmer Auditorium to become the premier address for the performing arts in Austin. Until then, Bass Concert Hall (23rd St at Robert Dedman Dr), located on the University of Texas campus, continues to be the venue for Broadway musicals, classical music performances, dance performances, the Ballet Austin, and much more.

Another gem is the Elisabet Ney Museum (304 East 44th St), a tribute to the renowned 19th-century sculptor and Texas arts pioneer who made her home in Austin. In fact, the museum is actually the artist's former studio.

The Austin Lyric Opera (901 Barton Springs Rd) has won numerous awards for its lyrical presentations, which mainly take place at Bass Concert Hall inside the Performing Arts Building on the University of Texas at Austin campus. You can see international artists and rising American opera performers in this venue.

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden (605 Robert E Lee Rd, off Barton Springs) is another oasis of art in Central Austin, dedicated to the work of American sculptor Charles Umlauf. This garden has 168 pieces of sculpture, plus the artist's home and studio make up the museum.

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum (2313 Red River) features photos, sculptures, and portraits of Johnson's years as President, including a 7/8th scale replica of his Oval Office and the actual 1968 stretch limo he used in Washington and Austin.

View contemporary and historical art about Mexican, Latino, and Latin American culture at Mexic-Arte Museum (419 Congress Ave), which is a non-profit arts organization. You'll also want to check out the back gallery, which is reserved as exhibition space for new talent.

The Zilker Hillside Theater in Zilker Park (2100 Barton Springs Rd) is a great place to watch drama, ballet, musicals, and symphony concerts for free during the summer under the stars. The theater is officially open from early April until October.

Austin's historic buildings include the State Capitol building, the Governor's Mansion, and charming homes dating back to the 1890s. On the next page, find out more about Austin's architecture and landmarks. You quickly learn this town takes its art very seriously as soon as you step off the plane at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Music- and Texas-themed art are located all around the airport, including in the baggage claim area. It's a fun introduction to the city.

With the influx of high tech money from "Dellionaires" -- those early employees of Dell, Inc. who reaped the tremendous benefits of multiple stock splits -- other generous benefactors, and enthusiastic city and community support, Austin's arts scene has really exploded in recent years.

The recently opened Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art is the biggest art news to hit Austin in some time, finally bringing together disparate collections from the University of Texas into one centralized location on campus. The Austin Museum of Art's two locations (South Congress and AMOA-Laguna Gloria on West 35th St) are both must-visit stops. The downtown location focuses primarily on 20th-century and contemporary art, whereas the Laguna Gloria location, the museum's original, focuses on the juxtaposition of art and nature.

Even kids get into the act at the Austin Children's Museum and Dell Discovery Center. This very cool museum features tons of hands-on activities, science exhibits, and even an "Austin Kiddie Limits" soundstage where kids can dress up like rock stars and pretend they're part of the show.

Austin is also home to a number of independent galleries, many of which are housed on the University of Texas campus, as well as a few new ones in the Second Street District, including the Shorelines Gallery (221 West Second St) with jewelry, glass art, wood and metal sculpture, bronze sculpture, lithographs, and original paintings.

©2006 ACVB Photo/Ballet Austin You can see performances by Ballet Austin at the Bass Concert Hall.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Arts & Culture in Austin

Insider's Guide: The Best of Arts & Culture in Austin

Austin is home to many great museums, including the city's newest crown jewel -- the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art (MLK at Congress Avenue, on the University of Texas at Austin campus), which opened in April 2006 and is owned by the University of Texas. It covers 180,000 square feet, making it the largest university art museum in the country, and the third largest art museum in Texas. Stellar permanent exhibits include the Contemporary Latin American Art Collection, the Mari and James A. Michener Collection of 20th Century American Art, and the museum's print and drawing collection. The Blanton's permanent collection includes more than 12,000 works of art that span the history of Western civilization.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum (1800 North Congress Ave) is another must-see attraction, where visitors can get their fill of Texas history and have lunch at the museum's cafe. This fun museum features exhibits and interactive experiences that trace Texas history from before European exploration to the early 1970s. Don't miss the Star of Destiny theater show, visitors' seats shake while watching a gusher from a Texas oil derrick and the takeoff of a Saturn V rocket!

The long-awaited and well-funded Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts (501 West Third St) is under construction now and will eventually replace the former Palmer Auditorium to become the premier address for the performing arts in Austin. Until then, Bass Concert Hall (23rd St at Robert Dedman Dr), located on the University of Texas campus, continues to be the venue for Broadway musicals, classical music performances, dance performances, the Ballet Austin, and much more.

Another gem is the Elisabet Ney Museum (304 East 44th St), a tribute to the renowned 19th-century sculptor and Texas arts pioneer who made her home in Austin. In fact, the museum is actually the artist's former studio.

The Austin Lyric Opera (901 Barton Springs Rd) has won numerous awards for its lyrical presentations, which mainly take place at Bass Concert Hall inside the Performing Arts Building on the University of Texas at Austin campus. You can see international artists and rising American opera performers in this venue.

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden (605 Robert E Lee Rd, off Barton Springs) is another oasis of art in Central Austin, dedicated to the work of American sculptor Charles Umlauf. This garden has 168 pieces of sculpture, plus the artist's home and studio make up the museum.

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum (2313 Red River) features photos, sculptures, and portraits of Johnson's years as President, including a 7/8th scale replica of his Oval Office and the actual 1968 stretch limo he used in Washington and Austin.

View contemporary and historical art about Mexican, Latino, and Latin American culture at Mexic-Arte Museum (419 Congress Ave), which is a non-profit arts organization. You'll also want to check out the back gallery, which is reserved as exhibition space for new talent.

The Zilker Hillside Theater in Zilker Park (2100 Barton Springs Rd) is a great place to watch drama, ballet, musicals, and symphony concerts for free during the summer under the stars. The theater is officially open from early April until October.

Austin's historic buildings include the State Capitol building, the Governor's Mansion, and charming homes dating back to the 1890s. On the next page, find out more about Austin's architecture and landmarks.