Mission & Purpose
• To maintain an art museum on the premises of the estate of Marion Koogler McNay for the advancement and enjoyment of modern and early art, for the educational advantage of the public
• To collect, preserve, and exhibit works of art, and to educate the public toward a greater understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts
Becoming the McNay
Ohio-born oil heiress Marion Koogler first came to San Antonio in 1918 shortly after her marriage to Sergeant Don Denton McNay, who was called to active duty in Laredo, Texas. Stopping in San Antonio, the newlyweds stayed at the Menger Hotel. Later that year Don McNay died during the 1918 influenza epidemic that swept the country.
In 1926, she moved to San Antonio, where she married prominent ophthalmologist Donald T. Atkinson. The following year, she purchased her first modern oil painting, Diego Rivera’s Delfina Flores, and the Atkinsons commissioned noted San Antonio architects Atlee and Robert Ayres to design a 24-room Spanish Colonial Revival house, which became the core of the McNay Art Museum. Marion continued to collect 19th- and 20th-century European and American paintings, as well as Southwest art from New Mexico. When her marriage to Atkinson ended in 1936, she returned to using her first husband’s last name.
At her death in 1950, Marion McNay left more than 700 works of art, along with her house, surrounding 23 acres, and an endowment to establish the first museum of modern art in Texas. In 1954, the McNay opened its doors to the public. Seven additions to the original McNay house between 1970 and 1994 included galleries to exhibit the museum’s constantly growing collection, space to store and frame works of art, and an auditorium for programs and special events. In 2008, the opening of the Stieren Center for Exhibitions doubled the museum’s gallery space along providing new archives storage, education spaces, and exhibition support areas.
The McNay Today
Since Marion McNay’s bequest in 1950, the collection has expanded to nearly 20,000 works including: