San Antonio, Texas: McNay Art Museum

The McNay Art Museum was founded in 1945 in San Antonio. It is housed in Marion Koogler McNay’s 24-room Spanish Colonial mansion which sits on 23 beautifully landscaped acres outside of San Antonio. The museum focuses primarily on 19th and 20th century art by European and American artists.

McNay, the only child of Dr. Marion and Clara Koogler, was born in DeGraff, Ohio in 1883. The family moved to Kansas shortly after her birth and bought pasture land on which substantial oil reserves were discovered and made the family wealthy. This wealth allowed McNay to study art in Kansas and Chicago. When her parents moved back to Ohio to retire in Marion, Ohio she returned with them and taught art in Marion until the death of her father.

McNay and her mother moved to San Antonio in 1926 and Marion soon married a prominent ophthalmologist, Dr. Donald Atkinson. She began building her mansion on his land. It was finished in 1927. They divorced in 1936 and she married and divorced four more times. She had no children. Eventually she reverted back to the last name of her first husband, Don McNay, who she married in 1917. He died in the influenza epidemic of 1918 after only 10 months of marriage.

McNay began collecting art when she came to San Antonio. Her first oil painting purchase was Rivera Diego’s Delfina Flores (see below). Upon her death in 1950 she left more than 700 works of art, the house, the land and an endowment to create the first modern art museum in Texas.

The McNay was showing a special exhibition entitled, Picasso to Hockney: Modern Art on Stage. It showcased modern painters and sculptors who have collaborated with directors, dancers, writers, composers and musicians to create designs to support their performances. It shows these artists stepping out of their studios and putting their art to work on a different creative stage.

Above: Pablo Picasso Top Right: Maquette for Le Tricorne (The Three Cornered Hat), 1919 for ballet with music by Manuel de Falla, choreographed by Leonide Massine produced by Diaghiliv’s Ballets Russes at the Alhambra Theatre in London. Top Left: Scene for Pulcinella, 1920 for ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky choreographed by Leonide Massine produced by Diaghiliv’s Ballets Russes at Theatre’ National de l’Opera, Paris

Above: David Hockney Left: Costume design for Columbine in the Opera, Parade. Right: Costume design for Harlequin in the Opera, Parade.

Above: Robert Indiana best known for his LOVE paintings and sculptures Left: Costume design for Constance Fletcher in The Mother of All of Us, opera by Virgil Thompson, produced by the Gutherie Theater in Minneapolis, Minn., 1966 and Santa Fe, NM, 1976. Middle: Costume design for Susan B. Anthony in The Mother of All of Us Right: Costume design for Ulysses S. Grant in The Mother of All of Us

Above Left: Henri Mattise, Robe for the Emperor in Le Chant du Rossignol (The Song of the Nightingale) for ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreographed by Leonide Massine produced by Diaghiliv’s Ballets Russes Theatre’ National de l’Opera, Paris. Above Middle and Right: Natalia Gontcharova, characters in Snegourotchka (The Snow Maiden) Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, 1922.

Above: The McNay also had a special exhibit of one of my favorite artists, Mary Cassatt, 1854-1926. Cassatt was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but lived most of her life in Paris. I like her work because Cassatt focuses on women doing everyday things.