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The Woman Must Marry, Else How Live: The Culture of Weddings from 1850-1950

On view March 2 - December 15, 2017

The American Wedding evolved alongside the material culture and social norms of the United States and the individual communities within it. From a ceremony which did not exist as a fixed concept in most people’s minds until the middle of the 19th century to the elaborate public celebrations we know today, this exhibit traces the evolution of the fashion, the expectations, and the social context of what is for some the most important day of their lives.

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To Embellish the Country: The Neill-Cochran House Museum Grounds in the full bloom of context

Exterior Exhibit

The series of Greek Revival residences Abner Cook constructed in Austin in the 1850s represented an attempt to bring order to the wilderness, and to erect temples of culture and refinement.  The Neill-Cochran House grounds as you see them today are not heavily embellished, nor were they in the nineteenth century.  They were tasteful and provided opportunity for recreation out of doors, and originally were balanced between the ornamental and the useful. Read more about this exhibit, perhaps as you walk through the grounds.

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Silverworks: Fashioned Elegance

Permanent Collection

Drawing from examples dating from the early 19th through the mid-20th centuries, we consider differences in material, process, and design amongst American Coin Silver, Sterling, Sheffield Plate, and electroplate flatware and hollowware for formal and ostentatious as well as daily use. Anglo-American, Austrian, and Mexican pieces show a variety of aesthetics and craftsmanship between small artisans and large manufacturers.

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Fascinating Faces: Portraits from the Neill-Cochran House Collection

Permanent Collection

Portraiture was foundational for the practice and careers of American artists working in the 18th through early 20th centuries, and understandably held a singular place in many Americans’ art collections. In this exhibit, we examine the fascination that Americans have consistently had with portraiture through works by both formally trained and self-taught painters spanning 150 years of Anglo-American aesthetics.

Past Exhibits

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Remembered by Hand: Family Histories Illuminated

On view February 7-25, 2017

Emerging directly from the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, the crazy quilt took the United States by storm in a blaze of kaleidoscopic color. The heyday of this fad was short lived, however. The crazy quilt reached its zenith and began a slow descent towards obscurity within only a few years of its birth. But within those brief years, the crazy quilt ushered in an artistic renaissance of needlework.

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Generations on Paper: Preserving the Pease Family Collection at the Austin History Center

On view March 2016 - February 2017

Housed at the Austin History Center and recently processed in order to be available to researchers, the Pease Family Papers consist of materials related to the family of Elisha Marshall Pease, who was governor of Texas from 1853 to 1857 and from 1867 to 1869, and his wife, Lucadia Christiana (Niles) Pease. Like many Austinites, they were not natives, but once they arrived they fell in love with the city. They and their descendants left behind a wealth of records and information that document life in Austin and Texas in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Stitching Memory: American Quilts from the Neill-Cochran House Museum Collection

On view February 16th through March 14th

The art of quilting often is in many ways the art of stitching memory.  The quilts in the Neill-Cochran House Museum Collection speak to us of creativity, practicality, and the beauty to be found in the everyday lives of the artists who produced them.  In some cases, we know a good deal about the quilter, and in others the quilter remains an enigma – anonymous. Representing different processes (patchwork, applique, and crazy quilting) as well as a variety of traditional design motifs,the quilts on display share great artistic design and detail in the stitching and material choices.

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West Campus 1815-2015: Evolution of an Austin Neighborhood

On view through March 2016

Widening our interpretive view to include the cultural and historical landscape that surrounds the Neill-Cochran House, we present images, information, and objects from the 200 year history of what we now know as West Campus. The early days of the University of Texas, the Austin City Gazette calls for “wars of extermination” against the indigenous Native American tribes, the growth and decline of Wheatville, and the sweeping changes ushered in by the 2004 University Neighborhood Overlay offer a moment to gather up the no longer visible past of this iconic Austin neighborhood.

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A City Rises: Abner Cook and the Growth of Antebellum Austin

On view March 2014 - April 2015

Master Builder Abner Cook arrived in Austin as a 25 year old man in the year of the city’s founding, 1839. Following his career (which would ultimately span five decades), we trace the parallels between Cook’s projects and the improving fortunes of the frontier capital.