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Essential Element: Campus Gems

Signature Courses are unique to The University of Texas at Austin and should similarly highlight resources unique to this large research campus. The collections, tools, and artifacts at this Research I university can complement and enrich your course while making tangible connections for your students to your course content.

Below are just some of the gems of campus, along with the appropriate contact for setting up an organized visit or individual course experience. If you know of a campus gem that should be added here, please contact the First-Year Experience Office.

Featured Campus Gems

Art Galleries at Black Studies

Contact: Kendyll Gross, Education Coordinator

The Art Galleries at Black Studies at the University of Texas (AGBS) is a platform from which to unpack timely social issues, through the arts. From exhibitions celebrating contemporary creative expression to displays of archives and material culture, AGBS is the sole on-campus entity dedicated to showcasing narratives of Africa and the African Diaspora. Comprised of two galleries—The Christian-Green Gallery and the Idea Lab—AGBS spaces are premier destinations for anyone who seeks to connect with narratives that affect us all.

For the fall, AGBS will be opening its doors in late September and is also available to visit by appointment. Please contact Kendyll Gross if you are interested in scheduling a virtual tour or teaching experience around AGBS’ exhibitions or collections. Please also check out their latest online initiative, The Narrative.

Blanton Museum of Art

Contact: Siobhan McCusker, Museum Educator for University Audiences

Whether you would like to schedule an introductory class visit, design an in-depth class experience based on a particular exhibition, or if you have an uncommon and innovative idea for collaboration, the staff at the Blanton Museum of Art work closely with you to build strong and creative connections between your curriculum and original works of art. Download this handout for ideas, examples, and information about Blanton tours. Please allow three weeks advance notice for guided visits, and two business days for self-guided visits. Museum admission is free for current UT students, faculty, and staff. Faculty members may schedule a class visit online.

View an overview of the Blanton’s digital resources for university audiences.

Harry Ransom Center

Contact: Andrea Gustafson, Head of Instructional Services

The Harry Ransom Center (HRC) will work with you to create an instructional session that meets your goals for your students. Ransom Center educators can teach sessions introducing your students to online research and the role of archives or create a collaborative teaching session with primary sources linked to your syllabus. They can provide you with digital surrogates, design an asynchronous lesson, or teach collaboratively with you. Have questions? Send them an email. Want to request a class session? Complete this form.

The HRC also houses a massive online catalog of digitized material from the Ransom Center’s collections. The content represented here touches all of their major collecting areas and is an easy-to-navigate introduction to the center’s holdings.


Contact: Catherine Whited, Landmarks Education Coordinator

Established in 2008, Landmarks is the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin. Founding director Andrée Bober leads the development of the collection and oversees a vibrant range of programs that support scholarship and learning. Its collection of more than forty modern and contemporary works includes commissions from some of the most admired and promising artists of our time. Believing that art fosters personal growth and human connection, Landmarks strives to provide inclusive experiences for all people. By creating equitable opportunities for meaningful engagement with public art, the program reflects the diverse communities it serves and celebrates our differences. Landmarks inspires thought and growth by making great art free and accessible to all.

Texas Performing Arts

Contact: Tim Rogers, Director of Education and Engagement

Texas Performing Arts provides engagement programs that connect UT faculty, students, touring artists, and the greater Central Texas community through a number of collaborations to contextualize the performing arts experience. Events include masterclasses, artist-directed symposia, workshops, post-performance Q&A’s, lectures, brown bag lunches, youth performances, and other events to offer insight on many different levels into skill, technique, and the creative process.

Brackenridge Field Laboratory

Contact: Rob Plowes

The Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) is an 82-acre biological research site that is part of an almost 400-acre tract of land originally donated to the university in 1910 by George W. Brackenridge, a former University of Texas regent. BFL is noteworthy as an urban biodiversity hotspot within easy reach of main campus. Many high-profile research activities explore relationships between organisms and their environments. BFL is a favorite spot for students to acquire hands-on experiences in ecological and environmental classes, and several Freshman Research Initiatives conduct fieldwork at the site. BFL contains immense biodiversity in its many habitats which include a native bluestem prairie, old pasture land and quarries, Colorado River frontage, fern-studded streambanks, and juniper woodlands. This diversity has produced records of thousands of species including at least 163 species of birds, 20 mammals, 373 species of plants, 68 species of ants, 1200 species of moths and butterflies, and 200 species of native bees. In the 1980’s a mountain lion was even spotted at BFL. Additionally, several species new to science have been discovered here and were named from specimens first collected on the site.

Racial Geography Tour

With the new digital Racial Geography Tour, take a self-guided exploration across the Forty Acres with African & African Diaspora Studies professor Edmund T. Gordon. Learn how racism, patriarchy, and the militarist nationalism of the New South are embodied in campus architecture and landscaping.

Only virtual tours are available at this time.

More Campus Gems

Visual Arts Center

Contact: Clare Donnelly, Gallery Manager

  • The Visual Arts Center (VAC) is a 13,000 square-foot gallery situated in the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. Our mission is to provide a platform for artists, curators, and educators to experiment, test ideas, and take risks. Through our exhibitions and public programs, we aim to spark generative conversations about art and contemporary society. We believe art has the potential to unite, inform, and inspire us to take action toward creating a more just world. The VAC is always free and open to the public. You can find more information about the VAC’s exhibitions here.

Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum

Contact: Sheila Mehta, Education Specialist

  • The LBJ Presidential Library is a center for intellectual activity and community leadership while meeting the challenges of a changing world. Through public programs and exhibitions, the Library provides meaningful context to the vast and sweeping legislation passed during the Johnson Administration and illustrates how those laws impact us today. Displays of historical documents, photographs, videos, and audio recordings increase public awareness of the American experience. Found only at the LBJ Library – hundreds of hours of secret telephone recordings of Johnson conducting the business of his presidency.

Located on The University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, the LBJ Library is one of fourteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The library is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is free for UT students, faculty, and staff.

Texas Memorial Museum

Contact: Laura Naski Keffer, Senior Administrative Associate

  • The Texas Memorial Museum can accommodate up to 200 students on a self-guided tour or 50 students on a guided tour at one time. Learn more about tour options and scheduling a visit.

UT Campus Telescopes and the Department of Astronomy’s Star Parties

Contact: Lara Eakins, Senior Program Coordinator

  • Please contact Lara two weeks prior to a visit, if more than 15 people will be in attendance.