San Antonio's McNay Art Museum reopened after $33.1 million expansion

The 45,000-SF expansion increases McNay’s ability to show more of its art collection, including beautiful outdoor gardens for the museum’s growing sculpture collection

TBG LogoSAN ANTONIO, June 10, 2008 – The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, the oldest modern art museum in Texas, has officially reopened after doubling in size. The 45,000-square-foot expansion – named the Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions – allows the museum to host larger, critically-acclaimed exhibitions and enables it to show more of its collection, with distinctive additions such as a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden to showcase the museum’s growing sculpture collection. The $33.1 million Stieren Center re-opened on June 7, 2008.

Jean-Paul Viguier, a French architect who has designed several modern-day Paris landmarks, served as the museum’s lead architect.  TBG, Texas’ largest landscape architecture and planning firm, was responsible for designing the new outdoor sculpture gardens and other exterior features.

The Stieren Center is a long, low two-story glass pavilion set deep into a grassy slope. A glass wall spans the façade at the upper level, alternately opening out onto a terrace or plunging a story into a contoured sculpture garden. On the lower level, the glass facade plays peek-a-boo with the surrounding grounds – disappearing behind paved terraces, opening out onto the new sculpture gardens, and disappearing again behind other planted slopes.


The interior design derives from the principle that “works of art need natural light.” To adjust to the bright south Texas sun, the project team devised an innovative seven-foot-thick, glass and steel multi-layered roof and cooling system, which allows the museum to filter and adjust light for different media. The museum’s interior spaces are continuous, changeable and seemingly free of structure.

Once inside the AT&T Lobby, the Stieren Center’s first gathering space, visitors find the main galleries to the right filled with natural light and capped by ceiling made of ground-glass, the roof system’s functional bottom layer. Designed to change configuration as needed, the 7,500-square-foot Tobin Exhibition Galleries allows the McNay to host larger traveling exhibitions for the first time. Flowing from the AT&T Lobby are the museum store and the Ewing Halsell Foundation Reception Hall for special events.

From the Tobin Exhibition Galleries, shallow stairways lead down into a long, dramatic barrel of a gallery running parallel to the glass façade. This sculpture gallery overlooks the whole of the new sculpture garden and opens onto an elevated terrace, the Brown Foundation Sculpture Terrace. A monumental perforated, bronzed metal staircase leads to the Center’s lower garden level, where four more galleries, the 225-seat Elizabeth and William J. Chiego Lecture Hall, two learning centers, technical and storage spaces and restrooms are found.


A jade green slate paves the pathway and front landing, frames the glass threshold, and enters into the Stieren Center’s lobby. These meandering pathways offer views of sculptures, gardens and McNay’s buildings, while stone partitions align with the building’s grid to showcase three outdoor sculpture “rooms” or galleries and the main sculpture garden. TBG designed the sculpture garden to be monochromatic, streamlined and simple to help emphasize the art within it. The garden’s walls jut out on an axis on clean lines that are covered in the same jade green slate, which is also the color of the integral concrete used for the garden’s sidewalks. The east and west meandering walks incorporate a log-jamb pattern that mimics perforated metal screening and other elements of the museum’s interior. Along the far garden wall, a three-tiered fountain, covered in slate veneer to match the garden walls, flows at an extremely slow pace ultimately collapsing into a long pool.

In addition, TBG preserved existing native large trees, ranging from 17′ caliper and ornamental trees to palm trees, and also incorporated various plantings to shield the museum’s delivery area, acting as an aesthetic mask to block necessary security devices from the general view.


In addition to Jean-Paul Viguier as the architect and TBG as the landscape architect, other project team members include the Paratus Group of New York, who directed the building project on behalf of the McNay; and San Antonio-based Ford Powell & Carson, Inc., a multi-disciplinary design firm, as the executive architect for the Stieren Center.  Pape-Dawson Engineers of San Antonio served as the consulting engineers.


As Texas’ largest landscape architecture and planning firm, TBG designs mixed-use and residential communities, corporate campuses, civic buildings, hotels, resorts, healthcare and educational facilities, city parks and historic sites. With 29 LEED Accredited Professionals on staff, TBG works to incorporate sustainable design principles into each project.  Established in 1987, TBG is now staffed by more than 130 professionals in Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.  For more information, please visit


Built by educator Marion Koogler McNay in the 1920s, the Spanish Colonial Revivalstyle home opened as the first museum of modern art in 1954. Mrs. McNay believed that the experience of great art should be available to everyone. Today more than 100,000 visitors a year become captivated by magnificent works of art by 20th-century luminaries including Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

A vital partner in arts education, the McNay annually serves as many as 45,000 adults, teachers, students, and families with a variety of arts education programs and educational resources, including a fine arts reference library and interpretive information about art in the museum’s collection and exhibitions.

Admission and parking are free except during selected exhibitions and special events. The McNay is open for Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm; Thursday, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm; Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; and Sunday, noon – 5:00 pm.

# # #

Media Contact: Claire Bloxom, (214) 329-9191