Editor’s note: This article was originally published February 4, 2014
While the University of Texas starts construction on its Dell Medical School, three sculptures by the late Charles Umlauf were moved on Monday to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.
The trio of bronze sculptures will stay at the museum on longterm temporary loan during which the will receive some much-needed restoration work and be available to the public.
UT originally commissioned “Muse I,” “Muse II” and “Muse III” in 1963 from the prolific artist and longtime faculty member and displayed them on the main campus.
In 1984, the sculptures were moved in Centennial Park, south of UT’s School of Nursing on Red River Street.
In 1985 Umlauf and his wife, Angeline, gave their mid-century modern home, studio, property — and more than 168 pieces of sculpture — to the city of Austin for a public museum and sculpture garden after their deaths.
The same year, arts supporters secured six acres below the Umlauf’s property — a 2¼-acre oddly shaped lot overlooking the corner of Barton Springs and Robert E. Lee roads — and built a museum.
Last year, the museum took formal possession of the artist’s home and studio and announced plans to restore both for public functions. Read that story here.
Charles Umlauf came to Austin in 1941 to join the brand-new art department at the University of Texas. Trained at the Art Institute of Chicago, Umlauf taught sculpture and life drawing, remaining at UT for four decades.
When the couple purchased the property in 1944, the promontory site was far from the city center and had nothing but an abandoned stone house. (The Umlaufs paid $2,800 for the property.) Over the years, they added the studio, made a modernist family house from the abandoned one and raised six children.
“It was a beautiful place when we first found it,” Umlauf wrote in 1983. “The shape of the hill … gives a natural sense of detachment … along with a space for a studio with a high peaked roof and living quarters next to it.”