Around the World in 80 Designs

May 2, 2024 

- August 4, 2024

Located in the Frost Galleries

Around the World in 80 Designs

May 2, 2024 

- August 4, 2024

Located in the Frost Galleries

Around the World in 80 Designs brings global sights directly to visitors through scene designs, costume designs, and maquettes (small-scale models) from the McNay Art Museum’s Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts.

This “travel guide” exhibition showcases the creative visions of theatre artists whose stage designs reflect the breadth of world culture and geography. While some designers endeavor to build realistic environments on stage to accurately recreate a specific place and time, others are intentionally abstract in their visual storytelling and interpretation of a production’s setting.

In order to reinforce a production’s connection to place, the exhibition pairs 40 artworks with 40 companion images of destinations like the Nile River in Egypt and an airport tarmac in Beijing, China. Alongside the designers’ artworks are images that consider what the locations for these productions might look like in real life.

These pairings shine a light on the sheer beauty of designers’ representations of far-flung places. For a 1976 production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” scenic designer Otakar Schindler references a bygone, mythical fairyland in ancient Athens, Greece. Imagery of a 2,000-year-old olive tree in the Greek village of Ano Vouves gives a glimpse into what ancient flora might have looked like and what might have inspired Schindler’s storyboard design.

Similarly, opera lovers will relish seeing John Piper’s 1973 scene design for “Death in Venice” that turns St. Mark’s Basilica into an ethereal mirage, obscured by the heat and haze of an Italian summer. Set in 1910 Venice, the scene is coupled with a view of the cathedral on a clear day, providing greater context for Piper’s backdrop design.

The exhibition will allow visitors to stroll through a three-dimensional travelogue and experience the thrill of traveling the world—all within the McNay’s galleries. It offers an inventive way to become further immersed in the theater arts—and in the world. If you love traveling you will love this exhibition. And if you have never traveled, then this is an opportunity not only to see some beautiful destinations, but also to learn more about the theatre arts.

Around the World in 80 Designs is organized for the McNay Art Museum by R. Scott Blackshire, Ph.D., Curator, The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts; and Remus Moore, The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund Assistant Curator, The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts. 

This exhibition is a program of  The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.

The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts represents more than 500 years of excellence in theatre arts and includes paintings, works on paper, maquettes and sculpture, as well as rare books of European and American theatre design from 1600 to the present. The collection is the life’s work and continued legacy of its namesake, the late philanthropist Robert L. B. Tobin, who was devoted to the celebration of theatre artists as fine artists.

Due to a maintenance issue, the museum will close at 5 p.m. today. Tonight’s Gallery Talk will be rescheduled for a later date. We will return to regular hours tomorrow.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to welcoming you soon.