The McNay Museum of Visual Art is a staple in providing San Antonio with some of the most unique and engaging pieces of art available in Bexar county. For more than 60 years, the McNay has been a destination point for tourists and art seekers alike. Over 22,000 works of art from around the world reside in the McNay, but did you know that there may be some artwork by a Mitchell on display? In 1954, the McNay opened its doors becoming the first modern art museum in Texas. At the museum’s center lays an extravagant mansion with the construction performed by G.W. Mitchell Construction (GWM).
Marion McNay, an American painter, art collector, and teacher moved to San Antonio in 1926 where she met and married Donald T. Atkinson. In July 1927, the Atkinsons commissioned GWM to build the 24-room Spanish colonial revival home, designed by Atlee B. and Robert M. Ayres. The project was completed in 1929 and cost $131,657 – about $4,800,000 in today’s dollars. Between January 1929 and July 1935, GWM was commissioned for several additions and repairs to the property for a total of $33,703 which would be valued at $1.24 million today. The construction and renovations are not the only ties we have with the McNay. We also share a link with some artwork seen inside. Cecil Mitchell, brother of G.W. Mitchell, and painting subcontractor for the project, painted the stencils seen on the ceiling of the lobby.
Upon her death in 1950, Marion McNay left over 700 art pieces, her luxurious Spanish Colonial house, and the beautiful 23 acres that surrounded it to the City of San Antonio. This donation established the first modern art museum in Texas. The McNay Museum of Visual Arts opened its doors to the public in 1954 and began gaining critical acclaim. Today, the McNay has over 95,000 visitors each year, a collection of over 22,000 works of art, and covers more than 64,000 square feet.
The McNay has come a long way from its establishment in 1954. As the museum continues to grow, we are happy to announce that we will be part of a future expansion plan. G.W. Mitchell has been commissioned to build a $4 million-dollar landscape master plan! This plan aims to further the McNay’s mission of engaging a diverse community in the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts through enhancing the outdoor museum experience with additional works of art, “invisible” fencing, new landscaping and increased accessibility. We are excited to be part of the continued development of the McNay Museum of Visual Arts and look forward to continuing our partnership with the first modern art museum in Texas.