advertisement

It's hard to decide which is a bigger draw here, the exquisite 1926 Spanish Colonial Revival mansion that became the core of the McNay Art Museum, its impressive permanent collection of fine art, or the 22-acre grounds where families picnic and brides have their portraits made. Whatever it is, the McNay Museum of Art keeps us coming back. Since opening in 1954, "The McNay," as locals call it, has been the pride of San Antonio and a favorite museum of visitors to South Texas. It's my favorite, too. Once the 24-room private home of oil heiress and art collector Marion Koogler McNay, the house and grounds were part of a generous bequest McNay made upon her death in 1950. Included in the package were 700 works of art and an endowment establishing the first museum of modern art in Texas. The collection has subsequently expanded to nearly 20,000 works, including Medieval and Renaissance art, European and American paintings, sculptures and photographs, and one of the finest collections of prints and drawings in the Southwest. The McNay is also home to the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts and the Jeanne and Irving Mathews Collection of Art Glass. In 2008, the opening of the museum's Stieren Center for Exhibitions doubled the gallery space, and provided more room for archives and education. For such a small museum, The McNay is home to a remarkable collection, including works by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Diego Rivera, Marc Chagall, and Georgia O'Keeffe . The permanent collection is impressive and the visiting exhibits are always a delight. Visitors here (a leisurely stop will take 1 1/2–2 hrs.) should make sure to linger in the central courtyard, visit the gift shop, and check out the 15-minute orientation film about Marion Koogler McNay. Docent-guided walking tours and audio tours are also available. Be sure to leave time to stroll the grounds and experience the sculpture. Or spread a blanket, have a picnic, and enjoy the serenity that a day at The McNay can bring. The McNay is approximately five miles from downtown San Antonio in the Alamo Heights neighborhood.