The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum is a good representation of quintessential Austin. Bronze sculptures are casually placed in a setting of native Texas plants in a shady garden. The garden offers a natural oasis near the heart of the city. Nature and art exist in peaceful harmony in the garden, with its streams and waterfall that block out the sounds of nearby traffic, offering visitors a serene setting for contemplation. The light and natural environment around the sculptures change with the seasons.

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Four acres of land containing small ponds once used for practicing fly casting were transformed into a sculpture garden in 1991. The garden was used to display dozens of stone and bronze sculptures donated to the city by Charles Umlauf, a noted American sculptor of the twentieth century. His sculptures cover a range of styles, from lyrical abstraction to detailed neoclassical realism to haunting expressionism. In addition to bronze, Umlauf also worked with stone, marble, terra cotta, and exotic woods.

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden is accessible and welcoming in several ways. Children can explore the sculpture garden with their hands, touching the bronze pieces. Visitors are also allowed to touch the sculptures to help those who are visually impaired enjoy the garden. Parents with strollers and people in wheelchairs are able to navigate their way along gravel paths that create a giant peace symbol. There is also the occasional music or dance performance that takes place on the grounds.

Later the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum gained Charles Umlauf's two-acre personal sculpture garden that was situated up on a hill that overlooks the grounds of the Garden. The unique garden was created by Angeline Umlauf, the wife of Charles, beginning in the early 1050's. She planted flowering shrubs native to Texas around sculptures made by Charles. As he finished a sculpture, it was moved from the studio to the garden. Paths were dug out and edged with stones from the flower beds by their six children. Charles and Angeline were inspired to give the garden, 168 sculptures pieces, Charles' studio, and even their home to the city of Austin by the pleasurable experience their many guests had while visiting their garden.

Tours of the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum are offered during the week from late morning to late afternoon. These docent-led tours are about one hour long, and are recommended for students in the first grade and above. The collection of over 200 sculptures, drawings, and paintings created by Charles Umlauf are used as an educational resource to encourage visitors to appreciate sculpture artwork. The Garden and Museum provides guided tours to thousands of students from a variety of schools each year. Students also receive admission to special exhibitions and take part in the Garden's Sculpture Safari. The Umlauf Garden's collection of bronze sculptures is the largest collection in the state of touchable bronze sculptures thanks to regular washing and waxing as part of a conservation process. Touch Tours provide a unique chance for visitors who are visually impaired and other kinesthetic learners to engage with the sculptures.

605 Robert E. Lee, Austin, Texas, website, Phone: 512-445-0200

Back to: Austin, TX

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