Austin's new showcase museum, formerly the Huntington Art Gallery, is the largest university art museum in the United States, and holds one of the country's largest private collections of old master paintings and drawings. Although it's home to a teaching school—this is a center for research and training in conservation studies and visual arts—the Blanton avoids the stifling tendencies of academe, frequently mounting daring special exhibitions. In addition to European
holdings rich in Renaissance and baroque works (many by Tiepolo, Poussin, Veronese, Rubens, and Correggio), the museum has a superior sampling of 20th- and early-21st-century American art, with an emphasis on abstract painting. Prints and drawings span the ages, from Albrecht Dürer to Jasper Johns, and the collection of modernist and contemporary Latin-American art is one of the country's largest, encompassing 1,600 works in various mediums. The Blanton's stunning new home, the Mari and James A. Michener Gallery Building, opened its doors in 2006; the adjacent Edgar A. Smith Building will open in fall 2008, adding an auditorium, event spaces, classrooms, a larger museum shop, and a café to the complex.