This year, the Ransom Center will cross a threshold of its institutional life as reconstruction on our building begins. The Center—for the first time in its history—will inhabit all of the space inside its walls. The University’s Blanton Museum of Art is set to move out of our building in the spring, and renovation of the Center will begin earnestly in the summer. When the work is complete in the fall of 2002, our doors will open to an inviting, magnificent lobby with spacious public galleries for our exhibitions, a research wing, and an intimate state- of-the-art theater for readings, lectures, performances, and films.
We eagerly look forward to this new era that brings with it enormous opportunity for public outreach. At the same time, our relationship to our old friend—the Leeds Gallery at the Flawn Academic Center—will change. For nearly four decades, the Leeds Gallery—albeit with its obvious limitations—has served us well. It has been our premier exhibition space and allowed us to showcase important collections. I’m thinking of exhibitions such as “Lewis Carroll: A Centenary Exhibition,” “Eve Arnold: In Retrospect,” “No Symbols Where None Intended: Samuel Beckett at the Humanities Research Center,” “Shouting in the Evening: British Theater, 1956-1996” and “Islands of Order: A Decade of Collecting” –a stellar list. It has also been one of our major public program spaces. In fact, we just held our fourth and most successful Fleur Cowles Flair Symposium there in November.
So the door will soon open on a new era for the Ransom Center—an era that will be marked by new ways of sharing our great collections and resources beyond the scholars and students who are our primary patrons. Our new spaces and galleries will extend our reach to a larger community with whom we and the Univeristy can share teaching and learning as well as research.