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THE ELISABET NEY MUSEUM

304 East 44th Street
Austin, Texas


Text and photos by
John Troesser

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Sam houston bust by Elisabet Ney
Sam Houston
by Elisabet Ney
The Elisabet Ney Museum sits in a residential neighborhood on 44th Street off of Avenue G. It's an unusual location for a museum - but nothing about the place (or Elisabet Ney) is usual.
Austin TX Elisabet Ney Studio interior
Interior of Elisabet Ney's studio.

Ney had her fortress-like studio built in 1892 and would commute on horseback from her home at Liendo Plantation in Hempstead, Texas - a good 110 miles. She would camp out en route and spend weeks in Austin while her husband wrote and lived the life of a hermit-philosopher at Liendo.

Ney's European circle of friends included some pretty influential people - many of whom had their likeness recorded by Ney. Her Austin friends would often come to her studio and if it became too crowded she'd throw out a few statues to make room. The studio was preserved after Ney's death in 1907.

An angel sculpture
A cherub model for a tombstone

The photo above is a model Ney sculpted for a tombstone that stands today in a Fredericksburg cemetery. After her own son died of a fever - she made a cast of his small body that she kept until her death. Her doctor recommended cremation out of fear of contagion and she performed the sad task herself. This may have started the "madness" rumors.

Austin TX Elisabet Ney Studio
Elisabet Ney's studio "Formosa" in Austin
Austin TX - Elisabet Ney Museum, Sursum 1892-1902
Sursum
1892 - 1902
Sursum, Elisabet Ney's sculpture
Ney's sculpture entitled Sursum, Latin for "Upward."
group of busts by Elisabet Ney . Museum gate stone inscription
Left - A sampling of some of the busts on display
Right - Gate stone inscription 1939
Austin TX - Elisabet Ney's Miller Baby Cast, ca 1900
Elizabet Ney's Miller Baby Cast, ca 1900
Elisabet Nay statue by her window
Ney's northern light window at her studio.
Austin TX - Elisabet Ney Portrait
Elisabet Ney Portrait
Austin TX - Sam Houston Bust by Elisabet Ney
Sam Houston Bust by Elisabet Ney
Austin TX - Elisabet Ney Studio - Statue
Another sculpture in Elizabet Ney Studio
Austin TX - Elizabet Ney Studio Spiral Staircase
Elisabet Ney Studio Spiral Staircase
The museum has a third story that can still be visited by climbing a rather tight spiral staircase. Ney would sometimes sleep on the roof of the building in the summer and since space was at a premium she had a bookcase built onto the back of the door leading to the roof.

It is one of Texas' oldest museums and unquestionably one of the most unusual. The sculptures and personal items are on loan from the University of Texas.

Admission is free and there is seldom a crowd.
Elizabet Ney is buried at Liendo Plantation in Hempstead, Texas.


John Troesser
May 2002

Related Articles:

  • A German Love Story by Michael Barr
    Friedrich and Emma Schnerr of Fredericksburg, and a tombstone by Elisabet Ney


  • Liendo Plantation or Love in the Time of Diphtheria
  • Elisabet Ney's Bust in Liendo Plantation TX
    A self-carved bust of the sculptor on display at Liendo

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