Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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The Harry Ransom Center has shared with the community more than 50 exhibitions since its galleries opened in 2003. To ensure that we are providing the best possible experience for exhibition visitors, we are repainting the galleries and upgrading the gallery lighting system.

The galleries will be closed May 30 through August 14, 2016.

With support from a University Green Fee project-funded Lighting Initiative Program, the Ransom Center will convert gallery lighting to LEDs. This will result in significant energy savings, enhanced lighting, and a more pleasing viewing experience.

During this time, changing displays from the Ransom Center collections will be on view in the Ransom Center lobby, ranging from British playwright Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to items related to the Ransom Center's summer film series. Visitors will still be able to view the Gutenberg Bible, the First Photograph, and Frida Kahlo's Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird and to conduct research in our Reading and Viewing Room.

Gallery tours will be suspended until the next exhibition, Elliott Erwitt: Home Around the World, opens on August 15, 2016. Private tours of the permanent exhibitions may still be requested online.


Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907-1954)
Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940
Oil on canvas, 61.25 cm x 47 cm
Harry Ransom Center
© Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Frida Kahlo's Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird November 25, 2015 – December 31, 2017

The Ransom Center celebrates the homecoming of one of its most famous and frequently borrowed art works, the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940).

Beginning November 25, the painting will be on display in the Ransom Center's lobby through December 31, 2017.

Since 1990 the painting has been featured in exhibitions in more than 25 museums in the United States and around the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Spain, Mexico and Italy.

The painting was most recently on view at the New York Botanical Garden's exhibition FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life, which had record-breaking attendance of more than 525,000 visitors.

Kahlo (1907-1954) taught herself how to paint after she was severely injured in a bus accident at the age of 18. For Kahlo, painting became an act of cathartic ritual, and her symbolic images portray a cycle of pain, death and rebirth.

Kahlo's affair in New York City with her friend, the Hungarian-born photographer Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), which ended in 1939, and her divorce from the artist Diego Rivera at the end of the year, left her heartbroken and lonely. But she produced some of her most powerful and compelling paintings and self-portraits during this time.

Muray purchased the self-portrait from Kahlo to help her during a difficult financial period. It is part of the Ransom Center's Nickolas Muray collection of more than 100 works of modern Mexican art, which was acquired by the Center in 1966. The collection also includes Still Life with Parrot and Fruit (1951) and the drawing Diego y Yo (1930) by Kahlo.

Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible is the first substantial book printed from movable type on a printing press. The Ransom Center holds one of five complete copies in the United States.

View web exhibition

First Photograph

First Photograph

The First Photograph was taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 or 1827. The image depicts the view from an upstairs window at Niépce's estate, Le Gras, in the Burgundy region of France.

View web exhibition