Austin History Center

Austin Sculpture Center Records

An Inventory to the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Austin Sculpture Center
Title: Austin Sculpture Center Records
Inclusive Dates: 1979-2012
Abstract: The Austin Sculpture Center was a school that operated in Hyde Park on the grounds of the Elisabet Ney Museum from 1985-2004. The collection consists of correspondence, clippings, manuscripts, and photographic materials documenting the history and work of the school until its closure in 2004.
Identification: AR.2014.009
Quantity: .6 linear feet (2 boxes)
Location: Archives Stacks
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

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.

Scope and Contents

The Austin Sculpture Center Records, 1979-2012, consists 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.


Collection has no separate series but maintains its original order and titles.


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.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Alaniz, Reynaldo.
Blackmon, Mary Collins.
Cardozier, Nancy F.
Caselli-Clark, Billie.
Coffee, Bob.
Free, Gregory.
Harkins, Daniel.
Kenney, Joseph W.
Kivell, Shirley.
Lawrence, Richard.
Ney, Elisabet.
Pearl, Bobby.
Ripperda, Marla.
Smalley, Pernella.
Sustek, Scott A.
Austin Arts Commission.
Austin Association of Sculptors.
Austin Community Foundation.
Austin Museum of Art.
Austin Sculpture Center.
Elisabet Ney Museum.
Elisabet Ney Museum Association.
Hyde Park Neighborhood Association.
Parks and Recreation Department.
Texas Society of Sculptors.
South River City Citizens Neighborhood Association.
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.
Austin (Tex.).
Hyde Park (Austin, Tex.).
Document Types:

Related Material

Archival Collections

  • AR.J.006 Ney (Elisabet) Papers

Austin Files

  • AF Subject-Art Sculpture-Umlauf Sculpture Garden A6400(2)
  • AF Subject-Art Societies-Texas Society of Sculptors A6600(8)
  • AF Subject-Art Societies-Austin Arts Commission/Council A6600(13)
  • AF Subject-Community Leadership-Austin Community Foundation, The C6075(6)
  • AF Biography-Blackmon, Mary Collins
  • AF Biography-Coffee, Bob
  • AF Biography-Ney, Elisabet
  • AF Biography-Smalley, Pernella Allen
  • AHC House-Building File, 44th Street East 304

General Collection

  • A 069.97092 OP 1985 Management Study of Elisabet Ney Museum
  • A 708.19 El 1987 Annual Report of Elisabet Ney Museum Board of Directors
  • A 709.76431 TE The Texas Fine Arts Association and Elisabet Ney Museum
  • A 728.0976431 Be Elisabet Ney Museum: A Preservation Analysis and Master Plan


  • Austin Sculpture Center
  • Elisabet Ney Museum Association Newsletter
  • Elisabet Ney Museum News
  • Sursum!,(Elisabet Ney Museum Association)

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Collection was donated by Marla Ripperda, a former instructor and board member at the Austin Sculpture Center.

Preferred Citation

Austin Sculpture Center Records (AR.2014.009). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #:DO/2014/005

Donation Date: 2014 February 11

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Rusty Heckaman/2014.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box Folder
1 1 Elisabet Ney Studio Vision Papers, 1990-2004
2 History of the Austin Sculpture Center, 2012
3 Founding Documents of the Elisabeth Ney Museum Association, 1979-1999
4 Transition of Elisabet Ney Conservatory to Austin Sculpture Center, 2000-2001
5 Austin Sculpture Center and the Parks and Recreation Department, 2001
6 Austin Sculpture Center activities and programs, 2000-2003
7 Austin Sculpture Center lease dispute papers, 2003-2005
8 Austin Sculpture Center potential supporters, 2003-2005
9 Austin Sculpture Center appeal to the Mayor, 2002
10 Austin Sculpture Center property search, 2004-2005
11 Austin Sculpture Center and Norwood estate, 2001-2007
12 Austin Sculpture Center financial records and closure, 2004-2012
13 History of the Elisabet Ney Sculpture Conservatory, 1979-2001
14 Austin Association of Sculptors minutes, 2001-2004
Box Folder
2 1 Photo album, undated
2 Photo album, undated