Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, abbreviated as UMLAUF, is a museum and outdoor sculpture garden dedicated to the works of American sculptor Charles Umlauf. The garden is close to Austin’s Zilker Park and is located at 605 Azie Morton Road in the Zilker area of Austin, Texas.
The UMLAUF’s Historical Background
The UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum embodies so much of Austin: outstanding sculpture discreetly displayed in a shady garden of native Texas flora, a natural refuge near Barton Springs yet only steps from the heart of a bustling capital city.
Originally containing small ponds where soldiers could practice fly casting in the late 1930s and 1940s, these four acres were then abandoned for the next four decades, lost beneath dewberry vines and illegal dumping.
The land was turned into a Sculpture Garden in 1991 to house the dozens of bronze and stone sculptures donated to the City of Austin by prominent twentieth-century American sculptor Charles Umlauf. There, art and nature coexist peacefully. The Garden, with its waterfall and streams muffled by highway noise, provides visitors with a tranquil setting in which to reflect on the sculptures or their own ideas. The natural environment around each artwork changes as the seasons change. In a variety of ways, the Garden is welcoming and accessible: Sculpture Safaris in hand, children explore the grounds with Sculpture Safaris in hand, delicately touching the gleaming bronzes polished for the vision impaired*; Friends sit and speak on the isolated seats; The occasional dance or music performance is even more beautiful among the trees.
The UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum will eventually contain the sculptor’s personal sculpture garden, which will be built on two adjoining acres up the hill and overlooking the Garden’s grounds. Angeline Umlauf began designing this one-of-a-kind area in the early 1950s, planting native blooming bushes around the sculptures that Charles moved out of his workshop as he completed them. Their six children dug walkways and outlined them with stones taken from the flower gardens. Charles and Angeline Umlauf were motivated to donate their private garden, together with their home, his workshop, and 168 pieces of sculpture, to the city they loved.
The UMLAUF has been dedicated to art education in one of Austin’s most scenic surroundings since its inception just over 30 years ago. Our objectives have grown alongside our collection and grounds. The goal is to transform the UMLAUF into a single beautiful, welcoming, and accessible facility with a variety of programmatic offerings to support the UMLAUF as a top destination in Austin.
The UMLAUF will become Austin’s arts destination for learning, play, and reflection. Our objective is to integrate Charles Umlauf’s artist studio, the Umlauf family house and grounds, and the current Museum and Sculpture Garden to make the full eight-acres open and available to the public. We want to restore the grounds, add to the permanent collection, and extend our ability to host rotating exhibitions and community events. In order to prepare for and grow the Museum, we will seek community and other support.
The UMLAUF envisions using its expanded collection and facilities to raise awareness of Charles Umlauf’s impact and influence as an artist, educator, and philanthropist, as well as to honor the Umlauf family’s gift to the community by providing experiences such as art in nature, immersive exhibitions and educational opportunities, health and wellness programs, a venue for gatherings and events, and a peaceful breathing space within.
Charles Umlauf was a well-known American sculptor who spent 40 years as a professor in the Art Department at the University of Texas at Austin. He began sculpting at a young age and shown such natural skill that, at the age of 11, he enrolled in studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. During the Great Depression, Umlauf worked for the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project and received notoriety for his enormous public works sculptures, notably War Mother (1939), which culminated in a job offer from the University of Texas. He is well renowned for his emotive sculptures on humanistic and religious themes, as well as his mastery of a variety of materials, including exotic and difficult media like rose quartz and Brazilian rosewood. Umlauf has more sculptures on public display in Texas than any other sculptor.
Exhibits of Modern and Contemporary Art
The UMLAUF offers a gallery space where modern artists from throughout the world, with a focus on Texan and Southern artists, show seasonally. Work by artists such as James Surls, Farrah Fawcett (Umlauf’s pupil, mentee, and occasional muse), Jess Moroles, Luis Jimenez, and Michael Ray Charles has previously been displayed.
The UMLAUF Prize has been expanded
The Umlauf awards an annual prize to a local rising artist. The award includes a stipend as well as a solo show at the museum.
Next Point of Interest: Paramount Theatre