Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Texas Music Museum Seeks Larger Space for Decades-Old Artifacts

By meerna Jul11,2024
Texas Music Museum Seeks Larger Space for Decades-Old Artifacts

The Texas Music Museum in East Austin is a tight squeeze.

Colorful exhibits adorn every open space on the walls of the narrow hallway. They include memorabilia from jazz, blues, Tejano, gospel and country music.

The three-person crew walks close together, careful not to knock a picture frame off the wall or hit a 20th-century gramophone.

It’s a cozy, safe space at the museum, which has also hosted classes and live performances since 1984. But even with the limited space, the staff exudes pride in their work.

Unfortunately, only a fraction of the artifacts, which are up to 100 years old, are on display at any given time. Another two dozen items are in storage.

“We don’t know where to put it all,” said Sylvia Morales, community manager at the museum.

Sylvia Morales lifts white covers to show an antique piano stored in the Austin Police Operation Blue Santa building, where its lease is expiring. The Texas Music Museum is seeking additional funding and space to move 90% of the museum's artifacts stored in the 1,000-square-foot space July 9, 2024. Patricia Lim/KUT News

Sylvia Morales lifts a sheet to reveal an antique piano stored in an Austin police building.

Museum staff began looking for a new space earlier this year. On Monday, they met with the City Music Commission, hoping to secure support for the expansion.

Pat Buchta, CEO of Austin Texas Musicians, advocated for a larger space for the museum.

“I think we have a couple of ways to get this thing going,” he said. “Their immediate need right now is space.”

Clay Shorkey, a professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, said his passion for collecting Austin music and history led him to found the museum 40 years ago.

“We don’t want to limit ourselves to a few exhibitions,” he said. “We want our museum in Texas to showcase all of these incredible musicians from every genre.”

Clay Shorkey poses for a portrait at the Texas Music Museum on Tuesday. Patricia Lim/KUT News

Clay Shorkey founded the Texas Music Museum in East Austin 40 years ago.

The museum is only about 2,000 square feet and borrows extra storage space from the police department. It must vacate that space next summer.

Morales said museum leaders would ideally like about 13,000 square feet in East Austin for exhibits and another 2,000 square feet for storage. The estimated cost for a space that size is $330,000.

“It would be great if the city of Austin could help us move forward with one of their unused buildings,” Morales said. “I honestly don’t know what we would do (without it).”

Buchta said museum officials are considering a redevelopment across the street from their current location on East 11th Street. The City Council is discussing the logistics of building that facility next week. Museum leaders said they will address the issue of occupying some of the space at that meeting.

“It’s very rare in this community to see someone who needs help without thinking twice,” Buchta said. “This place has the deepest archive of Texas music you can find. It’s time to help these people step up and be in the spotlight.”

By meerna

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