Things are beginning to open up after the first phase of quarantine that began in March, but all indications are good that another wave of social isolating is on the horizon. That doesn’t mean you can’t explore the awesomeness of Austin! This town is nothing if not creative –from virtual museum tours to dance classes, much fun can be had while staying safe.
The Live Music Capital of the World is offering lots of opportunities to get your music fix.
Visit Austin features a fantastic rundown of local music live-streams and rebroadcasts.
Austin City Limits has opened large swaths of its archive for your on-demand viewing pleasure. (Stream full episodes here: www.pbs.org/show/austin-city-limits)
The Austin Symphony Orchestra is offering a chance to enjoy a handful of past performances online. www.austinsymphony.org/the-symphony-rewind
Austin has some of the coolest museums ever and although most are still closed due to the pandemic, there are a number of options for virtual tours and online classes. Visit these museums from home!
The Austin Museum of Popular Culture AusPop collects, conserves, and exhibits vintage posters and live music ephemera from the 1960s through today to educate future generations on the rich and unique culture that makes Austin the Live Music Capital of the World. Take a virtual tour of some unique exhibitions at:
Blanton Museum of Art
There’s so much to explore during a visit to the Blanton Museum of Art on the University of Texas at Austin campus. With nearly 18,000 works ranging from Greek pottery to Latin American modern art, you can spend the entire day at the museum and want to come back for more! If you don’t have all day to meander through the museum halls, take this quick virtual tour to get a taste of the space.
The Contemporary Austin
Take a virtual visit to The Contemporary Austin at the Jones Center to view modern art in a renovated historic building. You can also explore its sister museum, The Contemporary Austin-Laguna Gloria, nestled on the Lake Austin waterfront. The museum is offering online art classes for ages 4-adult.
Elisabet Ney Museum
In 1892, Elisabet Ney, a German classically-trained sculptor, moved to Austin and built “Formosa,” a remarkable Neoclassical and Gothic Revival studio. Today, the Hyde Park museum is dedicated to her art and legacy and houses the largest collection of her work in the world. Although currently closed, there are a series of YouTube Tours available:
- For a video tour of the Elisabet Ney Museum’s main collection, given by Museum Site Coordinator Oliver Franklin, please click here.
- For a video tour of the current Special Exhibition “Barbara Attwell: Rewylding”, please visit Barbara Atwell: Rewylding Exhibition
- For a video tour of the Museum’s Native Prairie Historic Landscape restoration project, given by MinoGiunta, the Museum’s landscape specialist, please click here.
- To celebrate wildflower season, for a video demonstration of Plein Aire painting created by Baron Wilson of Austin Plein Aire Society using the Elisabet Ney Museum as a model, please click here.
The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC)
Opened in 2007, The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center was created to preserve, create, present, and promote the art of Mexican Americans and other Latino cultures. The center offers two galleries and two theaters, featuring work from local, regional, and national Latino and Latina artists. The ChingonX Fire exhibit was originally scheduled to open in the spring of 2020 in Sam Z. Coronado Gallery but the onsite exhibit has been canceled. The curator, April Garcia, instead opened an online exhibit featuring the artist for the community which can be viewed here.
Harry Ransom Center
The Harry Ransom Center is one of the top humanities research libraries and museums in the country, and the collections range from performing arts and photography to film, art, and literature. Located on the University of Texas campus, the Ransom Center houses such artifacts as the First Photograph, a Gutenberg Bible, and more. The center has a large number of little known digital collections at www.hrc.contentdm.oclc.org that will warm any bibliophile’s heart!
Chartered 1877 and opened 1881, this historic African American university is two years older than Austin’s best-known school, the University of Texas. Samuel Huston College merged with Tillotson College in 1952 to form Huston-Tillotson University. The Ira Evans Hall and the Anthony and Louise Viaer Alumni Hall are both listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Take a virtual campus tour today!
The museum collection of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum contains more than 54,000 objects donated by the President and Mrs. Johnson, their family, close friends, associates and the American people. Like that of most history museums, the collection is very diverse and includes objects ranging from Middle Eastern antiquities and coins to postage stamps to Oval Office furniture.
Neill-Cochran House Museum
Immerse yourself in Greek Revival architecture and life during Austin’s 19th century. Located near the campus of The University of Texas, the Neill-Cochran House Museum is one of few Antebellum buildings open to the public in Austin. The museum showcases the city’s cultural, economic, and architectural transformation from 1855 to the present day. Plus, discover kid-friendly virtual events and activities online.
Austin Central Library
Access the Virtual Library with your Austin Public Library card number and PIN/Password. These services can be used on most PCs; Macs; iOS and Android tablets and smartphones; and eReaders such as Kindle Fires. Please check the Help pages for more information about apps and device compatibility. Library staff members are happy to help to the extent of their knowledge but cannot access personal devices.
Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms
Located in northeast Austin, Pioneer Farms has six historic areas for families to explore, from the 1840s through the 1890s. Take the kids back in time at four different farmsteads, a Tonkawa Indian Encampment, a rural village, and more.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Head over (virtually) to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin to explore the beautiful botanical garden featuring various native plants. They have online classes for children and adults to learn about the conservation of nature and experience the beauty of the outdoors.
The Great Outdoor Austin attractions –from indoors! Beautiful panoramic, interactive photos of some of Austin’s most iconic outdoor spaces. www.youvisit.com/tour/austin/81272
YouTube Classes Many Austin gyms and yoga studios are offering classes online, and the University of Texas is offering an entire catalog of enriching informal classes at www.informal.utexas.edu.
When you just GOTTA get out of the house…safely!
The Blue Starlite is a mini urban boutique Drive-In Movie Theater. They only take 15-40 cars a night depending on their location and screen, so it’s an intimate, personal, one-of-a-kind drive-in experience. The Blue Starlite concentrates on childhood favorites, drive-in classics, indie films, art house, Cult, and Gen X/Y pop culture faves. Visit their website for pricing and schedule (and social distancing rules.) 2103 E M. Franklin Ave, Austin, TX.
By Barb Matijevich, author, long-time Austin resident, and mother of two fabulous daughters.