McNay Art Museum Celebrates 70 Years of Transformation through Art

Media Contact

Yolanda Urrabazo
Head of Communications and Marketing
(o) 210.805.1718

The first modern art museum in Texas marks 70th anniversary with a year of events, programs, and storytelling

SAN ANTONIO — For 70 years, the McNay Art Museum has engaged a diverse community in the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts. Today, the McNay begins a year-long celebration honoring its history as well as its founder, Marion Koogler McNay (February 7, 1883–April 12, 1950). Throughout 2024, the museum will invite the public to join in commemorating the museum’s legacy of transformational art experiences through an array of events, programs, storytelling, and activations.

“Throughout our 70-year history, the McNay has brought the very best of modern and contemporary art to San Antonio, beginning with its founding collection: the bequest from Marion Koogler McNay,” said Matthew McLendon, director and CEO of the McNay. “This special milestone year is a moment to reflect on our legacy as the first dedicated modern art museum in Texas and to look ahead at the extraordinary possibilities for learning, innovation, and impact.”

Built in the late 1920s by Marion McNay, the distinctive residence became the site of Texas’s first modern art museum when it opened in 1954. Since Marion McNay’s bequest of 700 works of art, along with her house, surrounding 23 acres, and an endowment to establish the museum, the McNay has broadened its program offerings, grown its collection, and expanded its spaces.

The collection has expanded to well over 20,000 works, including Medieval and Renaissance art; 19th- through 21st- century European and American paintings, sculptures, and photographs; one of the finest collections of prints and drawings in the Southwest; the exceptional Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts; Jeanne and Irving Mathews Collection of Art Glass; and art of New Mexico. In 2008, the McNay opened the 45,000-square-foot Jane & Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions to expand the museum’s special exhibitions program and to showcase the collection without interruption in the main collection galleries.

Today, visitors enjoy works by modern and contemporary artists Deborah Butterfield, Margarita Cabrera, Paul Gauguin, Vanessa German, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Joan Mitchell, Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Deborah Roberts, and more. The 25 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds include sculptures by Willie Cole, Robert Indiana, Luis A. Jiménez Jr., Alejandro Martín, George Rickey, Joel Shapiro, Kiki Smith, Tom Wesselmann, and Alice Aycock.

To mark the 70th anniversary, a year-long celebration kicks off in February with Founder’s Day, taking place on February 8, in honor of Marion McNay’s birthday that week (February 7, 1883). The day’s programs will be centered on Marion McNay—the artist, educator, and collector—and will include Architecture Tour of the McNay Residence, Marion’s Art: Watercolor Painting Workshop, and Marion’s Collecting and Beyond Talk. The community will also have an opportunity to share a significant McNay experience to be part of the new video series, McNay Stories. Founder’s Day runs from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The event is free for members. Not-yet-members may purchase General Admission and Founder’s Day tickets in advance. Free admission begins at 4:00 p.m.

The McNay’s 70th Anniversary Gala will take place on February 28 and will celebrate the opening of the exhibition, de la Torre Brothers: Upward Mobility. 70th Anniversary Committee Members include: (Founders Level) Emma and Toby Calvert & The F.B. Doane Foundation; Lou Celia and Don Frost; Marie Halff; Jane Stieren Lacy; Connie McCombs McNab & McCombs Foundation; Cynthia and Forrest Miller; Pat and Tom Semmes; The Tobin Endowment & J. Bruce Bugg Jr.; and (Artist Level) Carla and John Brozovich; Caroline and William Carrington; Frost Bank; Joanie and JR Hurd; L.D. Ormsby Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Barbie and Toby O’Connor; Carolyn and Allan Paterson; Corinna and JB Richter.

On March 28, The Tobin Distinguished Lecture featuring Dr. Caroline Hamilton will serve as a prologue to the upcoming exhibition, Women of the Ballets Russes (October 10, 2024 – January 12, 2025), which is focused on the dazzling creative contributions of women.

In the fall, the anniversary will culminate in November with a month-long series of events celebrating the opening month of the museum in 1954. The McNay will open its doors to the community for workshops, talks, 1954 film screenings, and an opportunity to share a personal McNay story, bringing together rich programming and perspectives to imagine what’s possible in the decades to come.

Coinciding with the museum’s 70th anniversary, related milestone celebrations include the 40th anniversary of the Tobin Wing; the 90th birthday anniversary of the late Robert L. B. Tobin, namesake of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts; and the 60th anniversary of the McNay’s docent program.


About McNay Art Museum  
The McNay Art Museum engages a diverse community in the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts. Built in the 1920s by artist and educator Marion Koogler McNay, the Spanish Colonial Revival residence became the site of Texas’ first modern art museum when it opened in 1954. Today, 200,000 visitors a year enjoy works by modern masters including Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Joan Mitchell, Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The 25 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds include sculptures by Willie Cole, Robert Indiana, Luis A. Jiménez Jr., Alejandro Martín, George Rickey, Joel Shapiro, Kiki Smith, Tom Wesselmann and others. 

Media Contact:
Yolanda Urrabazo
Head of Communications and Marketing

The McNay is open Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday from Noon to 5 p.m.