TABLE OF CONTENTS
Austin Sculpture Center Records
An Inventory to the Collection
The Austin Sculpture Center got its start in 1974 when Gregory Free organized the Elisabet Ney Museum Association and saw to the reopening of Elisabet Ney's Hyde Park home, Formosa, as the Elisabet Ney Museum. To complement the museum Free also recruited a small faculty to begin offering sculpting classes at the home. Interest in the classes grew to the point in 1980 that the Museum Association found it necessary to undertake a Resource Center Study to explore programming possibilities and to consider making use of a small bungalow that had been moved onto the property in the 1930's and had been used a caretakers residence since. This residence became known as the Lodge and in 1985 became the formal home of the Elisabet Ney Sculpture Conservatory. A Facilities Operating Agreement was reached with the city that allowed the Elisabet Ney Museum Association rent-free use of the building on a year-to-year basis. The Conservatory continued to add teachers and students through the 1990's, eventually providing instruction on stone carving, jewelry design and fabrication, paper casting, concrete process, wax sculpting, bronze pours, figure modeling, portraiture, bas relief, and large carving techniques.
Conflict between the Conservatory and the Elisabet Ney Museum came to a head in the 1990's when new Elisabet Ney Museum Director, Mary Collins Blackmon, expressed an interest in returning sculpting instruction to a more traditional style comparable to that experienced by Elisabet Ney herself in Bavaria. The board presiding over the museum was soon dissolved and Gregory Free handed control of the school over to the new Elisabet Ney Museum Association board. The new board appealed to both the city Parks and Recreation Department and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association for support but were notified on April 1, 2001 that they were to stop using the name Elisabet Ney and that all connections to the Ney museum were to be disavowed. The Conservatory was also given three years notice to be permanently moved from the lodge at this time.
After receipt of this notification the Elisabet Ney Sculpture Conservatory was renamed the Austin Sculpture Center. The Center attempted to garner community support and appealed the decision with the city Parks and Recreation Department and with then Austin mayor Gus Garcia but received little feedback. In anticipation of the date when the lease would expire the Center began a search for an alternative space to continue their work. Potential locations for the Center to move too included a historic property in Travis Heights called the Norwood site. However it, as well as all other potential candidates were not deemed feasible and in May of 2004 the Center was evicted from the lodge. The board for the Center would not meet again until 2007 when it decided to move the school's money to an account with the Austin Community Foundation. Efforts for relocation continued until 2012 when the board met and began the process to dissolve the organization. The Austin Sculpture Center was officially terminated on October 4, 2012. It's remaining funds were transferred to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.
The Austin Sculpture Center Records, 1979-2012, consist of clippings, correspondence, organizational records, financial documents, meeting minutes, photographs, and manuscripts documenting the history of the center. The material is primarily focused upon the Austin Sculpture Center's relationship with the Elisabet Ney Museum and the City of Austin Park and Recreation Department. Two photo albums in the collection illustrate the classes taught at the Center and showcase some of the sculpture produced there.
Materials donated more recently are housed in box 3 and largely document the Elisabet Ney Museum Association's agreements with the Parks and Recreation Department in the early 2000s. There are also materials from a 3-ring binder of a former board member of the Elisabet Ney Museum Association that contain bylaws, goals/objectives, meeting minutes, budget, and staff reports from 1990 to 2001.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
Collection was donated by Marla Ripperda, a former instructor and board member at the Austin Sculpture Center. In 2017, additional donations from another former member were added to the collection.
Austin Sculpture Center Records (AR.2014.009). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donation Date: 2014 February 11
Donation Date: 2017 March 29
Finding aid created and encoded by Rusty Heckaman/2014. Updated by Kelly Hanus/2019.