DALLAS (April 18, 2023) – The University of Texas at Dallas and the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) announce a landmark partnership celebrating the opening of the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Jr. Athenaeum in the fall of 2024. The unveiling of Phase I of the O’Donnell Athenaeum, designed by Morphosis Architects, is the first of three buildings in the new twelve-acre cultural complex for UT Dallas. With the Crow Museum of Asian Art as its resident museum, additional space will be designated for the presentation of significant works on loan from the Dallas Museum of Art in a multi-year partnership.
Two galleries will display long-term loans from the DMA with exhibitions curated by UT Dallas faculty members and guest curators. The University will offer courses and programs in tandem with the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, led by Dr. Michael Thomas, the Richard R. Brettell Distinguished University Chair and Professor of Arts, Humanities, and Technology.
This partnership represents a longstanding and influential relationship between The University of Texas at Dallas and the Dallas Museum of Art. Conceived by Dr. Michael Thomas with support from the late Rick Brettell and Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA, this union represents the next chapter for the two institutions. For the past seven years, the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History has operated a satellite location in the Dallas Museum of Art, offering UT Dallas students access to curatorial projects, research and programmatic experiences with the vast collections and visiting exhibitions. This new effort to extend the physical reach of the DMA to UTD, builds upon the research that access to original works of art increases skills of observation and communication and deepens the role of art in the development of new research and art histories. Dr. Thomas comments:
“In 2019, when I first approached Rick Brettell with the idea to bring the Dallas Museum of Art to the Athenaeum, we both recognized the profound impact such a partnership would have on art history at UT Dallas. The ability to rotate works of art from the DMA’s extensive encyclopedic collection will engage both students and faculty with unrivaled opportunities for teaching, curation, and research.”
This new agreement builds upon one of 10 key pillars in the UT Dallas strategic plan – to enhance the arts. President Richard C. Benson, the Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership, states:
“I am thrilled to welcome some of the finest works of art in our city to the new campus museum. This initiative supports our goal to improve student access to the visual arts, and I cannot think of a better opportunity for students – not only those studying the fine arts at UT Dallas but all students from every discipline. Not only will this partnership impact the campus community, but it is a wonderful way for the Dallas Museum of Art to reach communities in the northern Texas region.”
Similarly, as part of its own strategic plan led by Dr. Arteaga, the DMA has been working to explore opportunities to meet the Dallas community and surrounding areas where they are by offering access to art beyond the Dallas Arts District. Dr. Arteaga states:
“With art at the center and equity at the core, the DMA believes that art is for everyone. I am honored to bring the next chapter of this legacy partnership to life and look forward to providing better access to the art in our care to our beloved community. We look forward to sharing this new journey with the DMA collection and are thrilled to do so in collaboration with our valued partners at The University of Texas at Dallas.”
A key component to executing this strategic direction is a commitment to forming broad networks and partnerships. As a leader in the arts, the DMA is working to build partnerships and strengthen relations with local and state-wide institutions, taking art to the communities through short-term and long-term loans from the DMA collection.
The Marcus Family Deputy Director Tamara Wootton Forsyth notes:
“The DMA is proud of our long history of community engagement throughout the region, which has included bringing arts experiences to over 40,000 students and teachers throughout our region in 2022 alone. We look forward to building upon our commitment to the community through this partnership with UT Dallas.”
The University of Texas at Dallas, with a growing student population of more than 31,000 students, looks forward to the significant impact of new collections from the Dallas Museum of Art, exhibitions from the Crow Museum of Asian Art, and recent gifts in the areas of the Americas. The Phase I museum will represent a global perspective of art with deep engagement for the students including interactive gallery experiences, a student docent program, and opportunities for new research and technology as part of a “laboratory-like” museum experience. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Inga Musselman, notes:
“This new partnership offers our students unparalleled works of art as a tool for learning about themselves, others, and the world. I look forward to working with our museum leadership to develop new ways to explore art as a medium for the teaching and understanding of science, technology, engineering, math, and management.”
Dr. Benson and Director Dr. Agustin Arteaga state: “The University of Texas at Dallas and the Dallas Museum of Art share a common founder in the McDermott Family, a family that has strong ties to the tandem founding of dozens of major arts organizations in our region. This partnership is built on decades-long knowledge that art and culture have vast interconnections to the sciences, and to our founders, an education in the arts develops the whole human and cultural citizen.”