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Current & Upcoming Exhibitions

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Detail of poster for Armadillo World Headquarters, ©1980, by Micael Priest

FEBRUARY 9 – JULY 3, 2015
ARMADILLO RISING  Austin’s Music Scene in the 1970s

In the early 1970s the Armadillo World Headquarters became the cosmic capital of Austin’s burgeoning music scene, sparking the rise of a uniquely Texas blend of rock, country, and blues that transformed American music. The Wittliff Collections new exhibition, Armadillo Rising: Austin’s Music Scene in the 1970s, tells the story of a city that blossomed into “the live music capital of the world.”

Armadillo Rising showcases many treasures from the Wittliff’s extensive Texas Music archives, including handwritten song lyrics by Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker along with signed guitars from both men. Also on display are rare sound recordings, photographs and memorabilia that whisk viewers back to Austin’s heady past. Selections from the Austin City Limits archive, donated by ACL founder Bill Arhos are featured along with materials from the Armadillo World Headquarters. Pop culture keepsakes from the Wittliff's newly acquired collection of Jerry Retzloff highlight the connections between Lone Star longnecks and Texas's musical culture.

Rounding out the display are interviews, photographs, and mementos from the collections of Wittliff authors who’ve written expertly about Texas music: Joe Nick Patoski (author of biographies on Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan), John T. Davis (author of Austin City Limits: 25 Years of American Music), Bud Shrake (co-author of Willie Nelson’s autobiography), and Jan Reid (author of The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock.) Read more....


APRIL 19 AT 2:00 PM, the Wittliff Collections will host a free exhibition reception and public conversation with Armadillo World Headquarters founder EDDIE WILSON and music journalist JOE NICK PATOSKI. Cultural historian JASON MELLARD will moderate. The Wittliff’s Homegrown music poster exhibition catalog will be available for purchase (in hardcover and paperback), as well as other books by the participants, who will sign copies after the discussion. See the Events page for more details.

[above] Detail of closing-night poster for the orginal Armadillo World Headquarters, © 1980, Micael Priest

The Golden Dawn & The Thingies, 1967, Gilbert Shelton

JANUARY 12 – JULY 3, 2015
HOMEGROWN  Austin Music Posters, 1967 to 1982

Poster artists in the late sixties, seventies, and early eighties visually evoked the sound and defined the culture of Austin just as the city was establishing itself as one of the most vital music scenes in the country. More than 140 vintage pieces from the Wittliff's archive of Tom Wilmore and other generous donors document this history and testify to Texas artists’ mastery of the poster form using hand drawings and creative print techniques. Distinct generations of design are vividly illustrated—psychedelic art of the Vulcan Gas Company, early works from the Armadillo World Headquarters, an emerging variety of styles from the mid-1970s, and the radical visual aesthetic of punk—produced by such renowned artists as Gilbert Shelton, Jim Franklin, Kerry Awn, Micael Priest, Danny Garrett, Guy Juke, Ken Featherston, and NOXX. Homegrown—the title of the exhibition and the accompanying catalog, new in the Wittliff book series (University of Texas Press)—emphasizes the Texas-inspired sensibility of these vintage posters and the close-knit community of Austin artists who created them. Read Jeff Salamon’s Texas Monthly article “Flyers on the Wall” here.

MARCH 1 the Wittliff Collections will host the exhibition reception, a discussion about the poster art and its influence on Austin culture with a panel of several of the featured artists, and a book signing with many of the artists whose work is on display. See the Events page for further information.

[above] Poster for The Golden Dawn & The Thingies at the Vulcan Gas Company, © 1967, Gilbert Shelton


JANUARY 12 – MAY 15, 2015
      Portraits by MICHAEL O
      Stories by ELIZABETH O'BRIEN 

The Wittliff Collections are proud to present our first solo exhibition of images by one of America’s premier portrait photographers. In this series, based on his latest book from the University of Texas Press, MICHAEL O'BRIEN celebrates the individuality and independent spirit of Texans—from ordinary folk to the rich and famous, including those born here and those who eventually made Texas home. For his new edition of The Face of Texas, O’Brien has added portraits and updated photographs of people from the first edition. Writer and former Life reporter ELIZABETH O'BRIEN offers insightful verbal vignettes for the new portraits and also brings us up-to-date with the lives of the rest of the subjects. Each of the 48 portraits in this exhibition are accompanied by her narrative about the person. This winning combination of images and stories about a fascinating, eclectic mix of Texans is a fitting homage to our unique state.

JANUARY 25 the Wittliff Collections will host an exhibition reception, free public program, and book signing with Michael and Elizabeth O'Brien. The Face of Texas (University of Texas Press) will be available for purchase at the event. See the Events page for more information.

[above] O'Brien's The Face of Texas cover features his latest portrait of Willie Nelson, © 1999, which is on view in the exhibition.

Hat Creek Outfit



Lonesome Dove was originally broadcast by CBS on February 5, 1989, drawing a huge viewing audience and earning numerous awards, including 18 Emmy® nominations and seven wins. The show won two Golden Globes, for Best Miniseries and Best Actor in a Miniseries (Robert Duvall). The film was deemed Program of the Year by the National Television Critics Association, as well as Outstanding Dramatic Achievement. It received the D.W. Griffith Award for Best Television Miniseries, and CBS was presented with a Peabody Award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama.

From hats to gun belts to boots, the complete outfits of Augustus “Gus” McCrae, Jake Spoon, and Woodrow F. Call (played by Robert Duvall, Robert Urich, and Tommy Lee Jones) are just a few of the many “making of” materials the Wittliff Collections have on permanent display from the beloved miniseries based on Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. This exhibition from the Wittliff’s major Lonesome Dove production archive takes visitors behind the scenes of the Emmy-winning show, with a look at props and principal costumes, set designs, costume sketches and production notes, Bill Wittliff's screenplay drafts, script pages, and photographs, plus much, much more.


A Book on the Making of Lonesome Dove by John SpongNOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE! 
Purchase A Book on the Making of Lonesome Dove signed by screenwriter and co-executive producer Bill Wittliff, author John Spong, and archives photographer Jeff Wilson.

Purchase A Book of Photographs from Lonesome Dove by Bill Wittliff.

Tour the Lonesome Dove Collection online.

[above] The Hat Creek Outfit, © 1988, Bill Wittliff


Tres Amigos © Tom Foster

JUNE 1 – JULY 25, 2015
TPS 24: The International Competition 
The Wittliff Collections are proud to collaborate with Texas Photographic Society to present the winning work from their 24th International Competition. Juried by Dr. David L. Coleman, Wittliff Collections Director, the exhibition presents 50 images from 49 Texas Photographic Society members. 

JUNE 6 the Wittliff Collections and Texas Photographic Society will host an exhibition reception with many artists in attendance. See TPS 24 events page for more details. 

[above] Tres Amigas, © Thomas Foster, First Place