Elisabet Ney Museum

ElisabetNeyMuseum.jpg
Austin, TX
United States
Elisabet Ney Museum

This 2.5 acre property just north of downtown Austin served as the studio for German-born, American sculptor Elisabet Ney. Once surrounded by a Texas prairie landscape of post oaks and cedars set in open fields of native grass, yucca, and wildflowers, the property was soon surrounded by the dense residential community of Hyde Park. Waller Creek bisects the lot, with the studio building located south of the creek and a grove of pecans to the north. Historically known as Formosa (Portuguese for “beautiful”), the neoclassical-romantic structure was designed by Ney herself. Facing south, the building, built in 1892 and added to in 1902, was approached by a crushed-stone carriage drive entering from East 44th Street. The property—which also included a large vegetable garden, stable, and servants’ quarters—was enclosed by a cedar post and chicken wire fence. In 1936, Austin's Violet Crown Garden Club constructed a low rock wall along the south edge of the property and provided some landscape design.

Formosa became one of the state’s first fine art museums, opened in 1911 just four years after Ney’s death. Now owned by the City of Austin, Ney’s studio exhibits more than 80 pieces of her work. Between 2007 and 2012 a portion of the historic landscape was restored to the Ney period, including the replanting of native vegetation south of Waller Creek and the restoration of the carriage road. Formosa was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and the surrounding Hyde Park Historic District was listed in 1990.