The Carter Blog
Jan 14, 2021
Put on your party hat, light the candles, and ready the confetti! In 2021, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art turns 60. A lot has happened over the years, so this year we’re celebrating by bringing you exciting exhibitions, offering fun events, and launching new digital initiatives. We’re kicking off the celebration by sharing 10 fun facts about the Carter.
10 Fun Facts about the Carter:
Throughout our history, the Museum has had three names—the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art (1961–77), the Amon Carter Museum (1977–2010), and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (2010–present). You can call us “the Carter” for short!
The Museum’s building has had five designs and one satellite facility. Originally opened on January 21, 1961, it was expanded in 1963–64 and again in 1976–77. An extensive renovation project from 1999 to 2001 replaced the two earlier additions with an entirely new wing while preserving the original 1961 building; during this project, a satellite exhibition space opened in downtown Fort Worth. In 2018–19, the Museum renovated its galleries, expanded the photography storage vaults to allow for future collection growth, and increased accessibility to the Museum and grounds through an integrated ramp system on the Plaza. You can experience the current building through our new virtual gallery experience.
When you visit the Museum, you might notice the shellstone walls. This Cordova shellstone is found only in Texas and features fossilized shells and coral that are millions of years old!
Named for legendary businessman and publisher Amon G. Carter Sr., the Museum’s creation is due to his children: Ruth Carter Stevenson, a visionary leader in her own right, and Amon G. Carter Jr. Stevenson championed the arts on a national scale, including serving as the first woman appointed to the board of the National Gallery of Art and, eventually, its first female chair.
Beginning with Amon G. Carter Sr.’s collection of western art, the Museum began collecting outside of the genre almost immediately. The first photographs entered the collection in 1961, and the first modern sculpture was acquired in 1962.
The Carter began working with living artists as early as 1961 and, throughout the years, we’ve continued this work commissioning and exhibiting works by artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Richard Avedon, Barbara Crane, Sedrick Huckaby, Gabriel Dawe, Mark Dion, and many more.
The Carter has had just five directors in our 60 years—Mitchell A. Wilder (1961–79), Jan Keene Mulhert (1980–95), Rick Stewart (1995–2005), Ron Tyler (2006–11), and Andrew J. Walker (2011–present).
The Museum has been visited by many famous faces, including Presidents Ronald Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson, architect I.M. Pei, Queen Sirikit of Thailand, actors Steve Martin and Bill Paxton, and more!
The Carter’s art has been featured on three stamps produced by the U.S. Postal Service. In 1961, Frederic Remington’s The Smoke Signal (1905), and in 1998, Thomas Moran’s Cliffs of Green River (1874) and John James Audubon’s Long-billed Curlew (1834).
When you think of a museum collection, do you only think of art? In addition to the art collection, the Carter is home to one of the most comprehensive American art research libraries, including a research collection of over 150,000 items, archives with artists’ private papers, historical documents, and Museum records, and a Study Room where you can view artwork up close. Both the Library and Study Room are open to the public; stop by to learn more!
Though we opened in 1961, the idea for the Carter was formed in 1936. That year, Amon G. Carter Sr. worked with city officials to designate a spot for his future museum, choosing a hillside at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Camp Bowie Boulevard—the same place the Museum stands today!