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Culture. Collections. Conservation

Help preserve culture for future generations!

Did you know that one of the world's leading conservation centers resides on the 40 Acres?

The Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin is an internationally renowned humanities research library, archive, and museum right here on the 40 Acres, serving as a vital resource for scholars, students, and anyone interested in the creative process of the finest writers and artists across history. Visitors—in-person and online—have completely free access to engage with the Center's extraordinary collections in literature, photography, art, film, and the performing arts.

Conservation is a key pillar in the Center's commitment to access. We must ensure that these important cultural objects are accessible to present generations . . . and to future ones.

The number of works in need of conservation treatment at the Ransom Center is substantial. Paintings, objects, audiovisual materials, books, works on paper, and photographs – they are all made of material that will deteriorate over time. As a conservation hub at UT, the Ransom Center also helps other campus collections with their conservation needs, including spending more than 100 treatment hours to repair the stunning original half-scale architectural drawing of the UT Tower clock face.

Every dollar directed to conservation helps the Center tackle a cultural object in need of treatment. Applying their expertise and the latest in conservation tools and technology, conservators ensure these culturally important objects can be studied and appreciated by many more generations of students, researchers, and the public.

Our success starts with the generosity of individual collectors, donors, and friends like you. Donate today to support the conservation treatment of these significant paintings.

Make a gift to the Collection Care Fund

Preserve the paintings of groundbreaking creative women

Help preserve the important works and legacies of three creative women: Dame Edith Sitwell, Nancy Cunard, and Carson McCullers – bold, unconventional women who rejected societal expectations to pursue writing. Sitwell and Cunard were integral members of the World War I and II literary coteries of Britain and Paris. McCullers is perhaps the most famous female writer, along with Flannery O'Connor, of the Southern Gothic literary tradition.

Painted portrait of Edith Sitwell Painted portrait of Edith Sitwell

Renowned painter and designer Pavel Tchelitchew's close friendship with Edith Sitwell led to the creation of six paintings of the British poet and critic, whose archive is held by the Ransom Center. In the portrait, circa 1930, Sitwell is pictured in her characteristic turban and in Tchelitchew's typically exaggerated and moody rendering of the period. The Center's extensive holdings related to Edith and other members of the Sitwell family shed light on the author and poet's work, as well as her broad connections to many important early 20th-century cultural figures like Siegried Sassoon and Evelyn Waugh. This painting exhibits accumulated surface grime and needs cleaning to restore its color.

Pavel Tchelitchew, [Portrait of Edith Sitwell], ca. 1930. Oil on canvas adhered to board. Pavel Tchelitchew Art Collection, 65.119.

Painted portrait of Nancy Cunard

In 1920s Paris, pianist and artist Eugene McCown painted a series of seven portraits of his close friend and benefactor, writer and activist Nancy Cunard. This 1923 portrait is the most iconic of the series, selected by Cunard for publication in her autobiography. The portrait depicts Cunard in her father's riding costume, rendered in McCown's typical expressive and sculptural style. Damaged at the time of Germany's occupation of Paris in 1940, the portrait needs tear repair, paint work, and cleaning. After treatment and stabilization, the portrait will be temporarily displayed in the Ransom Center's main lobby for all to enjoy.

Eugene McCown, [Portrait of Nancy Cunard], 1923. Oil on board. Nancy Cunard Art Collection, 92.18.

Painted portrait of Carson McCullers Painted portrait of Carson McCullers

Emanuel Glicen Romano's portrait of Carson McCullers depicts the Southern Gothic writer seated in a study; she's shown dressed in a men's shirt gifted to her by Tennessee Williams. McCullers sat for two portraits by Romano following their meeting in 1948; both are in the Ransom Center's collection. The Carson McCullers Collection comprises an extensive number of McCullers's essays, poems, and drafts of her novels and stories. This painting has minor tears, paint insecurity, and bulges in the canvas that need to be addressed.

Emanuel Glicen Romano, [Portrait of Carson McCullers], ca. 1949. Oil on canvas. Hugo Dreyfuss Art Collection, 69.14.

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Phonograph recording

The Center holds a seven-disc audio recording of the first Japanese production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. Kihachi Kitamura translated the play and directed a 1950 production that toured to Tokyo and Osaka, funded by the U.S. Department of State's post-WWII cultural initiatives. Not commercially produced, these recordings were made so Williams could hear the translation into Japanese. Over the years, the surfaces of these unique discs have cracked and detached from the plate. Using advanced audio preservation technology developed by the Library of Congress and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the disc grooves will be digitally scanned to capture the sound, making them accessible to future artists, scholars, and students.

Phonograph recording of the Japanese premiere of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, 1950. Audrey Wood Papers.


More than 150 years old, this hat was worn as a costume by three generations of noted American actors. Charles Fechter wore the hat in The Corsican Brothers and passed it along to Edwin Booth, who used it in the title role of Don César de Bazan. Booth gave the hat to the child actress Elsie Leslie, who intentionally damaged the hat for her role in The Prince and the Pauper. The hat should look damaged, but in the years before it came to the Ransom Center, poor storage conditions and insect infestations have weakened the hat's stability. Funding will help conservators stabilize the hat and create a better long-term housing.

Costume hat formerly belonging to actors Charles Fechter, Edwin Booth, and Elsie Leslie, ca. 1850. Edwin Booth Collection.

Actor in costume
Charles Fechter in The Corsican Brothers.
Make a gift to the Collection Care Fund

Make a gift today and invest in the preservation of our collected history and culture and support the excellence of the Ransom Center's Conservation Center.

For assistance, please contact Development Specialist Rebecca Dearlove at