Meadows Museum Celebrates 50th Year

save the date

WHEN: April 18
WHAT: Free admission, various activities, performances, and programs to celebrate Founders’ Day.

SMU may have been celebrating its “centennial season” since 2011, but one essential part of campus is celebrating an anniversary all its own: the Meadows Museum.

The imposing museum that stands at the entrance of Bishop Boulevard and greets visitors with the “Wave” sculpture is recognizing its 50th year in existence.

“It all goes back to oil,” Meadows Museum associate director Bridget Marx said. “[Algur H. Meadows] was an oilman, and [Francisco] Franco, the dictator, invited him to Spain to find oil. He spent many years searching. There is no oil in Spain. But while there, he fell in love with oil painting.” 

That’s the reason behind Meadows’ intense focus on Spanish art, both traditional styles and modern. His acquired gallery officially took shape as the Meadows Museum in 1965, embarking on two decades of full-throttle collecting under the guidance of curator and director William B. Jordan.

At the time, the museum was housed in the Owens Fine Arts Center, which still holds classrooms and theaters further up the boulevard. The Meadows Museum as it is known today was not built until 2001.

Pivotal moments

1948: Algur H. Meadows and wife Virginia start the Meadows Foundation

1962: Meadows donates his collection of Spanish art to SMU

1965: The Meadows Museum opens in the Owens Fine Arts Center

1998: Meadows Foundation donates funds to construct a new building

2001: The new home of the Meadows Museum opens

2010: Museum begins its partnership with the Museo del Prado

“The old building … really was a beautiful space that invoked Spain,” Marx said. “But as the collection grew, we outgrew the space.”

With April 3 as the official anniversary date, the museum is looking to honor all this history over the next year through a series of special exhibits, events such as lectures and galas, new acquisitions, and worldwide partnerships through loans with museums such as the Louvre and the Museo del Prado.

Though some events such as special lectures have already begun, Meadows will kick off the celebration officially with an invitation-only gala for donors on April 16, a commemoration ceremony and ribbon cutting on April 17, and a Passport to Spain event on April 18.

Passport to Spain opens two of the centennial exhibits, The Abelló Collection and The Meadows Collection, to the public. It also falls right in the middle of SMU’s Founders’ Weekend.

“It’s very family-friendly,” Marx said. “We’re open to the entire community that day.”

Interested parties can stay up to date with all the exhibits and special events through a newsletter. Anyone who becomes a member of the Meadows Museum through April can attend the member preview party on April 17.

One notable exhibit is that of SMU alumnus John Alexander, who credits Spanish artist Francisco Goya (and Meadows’ focus on the artist) as one of his major influences.

“He had very close contact with a lot of the Goya works,” marketing manager Carrie Hunnicutt said. “You can see that reflected in his work.”

With this boom of activity, Meadows is hoping to continue to draw more visitors from Dallas at large, and not just the SMU community.

“It’s an exciting time for the Meadows Museum,” Marx said. “We’re really gaining momentum … and I think it’s time for us to announce to Dallas, ‘Look at us.’”

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