Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2005 Newsletter

At the Texas Book Festival

In keeping with the mission of providing enrichment for the public in the arts and humanities, staff from the Ransom Center participated in the 9th Annual Texas Book Festival held October 28-31, 2004. The festival featured over 200 authors, including the Center's Executive Curator for Academic Affairs, Kurt Heinzelman, and Associate Curator and Head of the Art Collection, Peter Mears.

Heinzelman, editor of the recently published book The Covarrubias Circle: The Nickolas Muray Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art, discussed Covarrubias's important artistic circle of friends, and how the Muray Collection, when up for sale in the 1960s, was originally called 'Covarrubias and His Comrades.' "I don't know how in the midst of the Cold War Texas bought a collection by communist sympathizers, but I'm glad they did because this is the most diverse Covarrubias collection in the U.S.," said Heinzelman.

Mears, contributing author to the book and curator of the current exhibition Miguel Covarrubias: A Certain Clairvoyance, discussed the associations between the art and literary collections at the Center and presented a slide show featuring Covarrubias's key artworks from the Muray Collection as well as photographic images of individuals who supported Covarrubias in the 1920s during his meteoric rise in New York City's arts and publishing worlds.

Also contributing to the festival, Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley moderated a panel discussion entitled "State of the Arts and Humanities." The distinguished speakers included Bruce Cole, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Adair Margo, chairman of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; Robert S. Martin, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and Michael L. Gillette, executive director of Humanities Texas.

Technology and its impact on libraries and museums was one of the topics addressed by panelists and audience members. "The Ransom Center receives 1.5 million visitors a month via the website," Staley told the audience as a case in point. As the discussion came to a close, panelists agreed that managing and expanding the arts and humanities in the U.S. takes a breadth of vision, the right opportunities, and a willingness to invest.  

-Shelly Whitfield

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