Around Campus: The Wittliff Collections

Wittliff Collections celebrate 25 years
with free exhibitions and events

Photo from the Wittliff Collections

Mujeres Mazahua by Mariana Yampolsky

By Michele Miller

In 1986, Austin screenwriter and photographer Bill Wittliff and his wife Sally established the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University with a gift of papers and personal artifacts from Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie. Five years later, a Southwestern-inspired reading and exhibition room opened on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library to showcase the growing holdings—with no entry fee.

This year, the Wittliff will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with an open house on Oct. 1, in conjunction with Discover Texas State, as well as numerous free exhibitions and events throughout the year.

Since its founding, the Wittliff has expanded to over 6,600 square feet of exhibition area for students and other visitors to enjoy. The galleries include 16 display cases of literary, music and film artifacts and enough wall space for an average of 150 photographs to be on display at any given time from the Wittliff’s expanding collection of nearly 18,000 prints. New literary and photographic shows are presented each semester, and one room is dedicated to the props, costumes, set designs and other making-of materials from the miniseries Lonesome Dove.

Currently on view are three special exhibitions commemorating the Wittliff Collections’ 25th anniversary:

  • Illuminating Texas: 25 Lone Star Moments focuses on 25 key events that demonstrate how the rich literary and photographic collections relate to the culture and history of our state, as well as how artists translate shared experience into creative legacy.
  • The Dazzling Instant exhibition of 95 images by 70 photographers was inspired by master Henri Cartier-Bresson, who wrote, “The photograph is a guillotine blade that seizes one dazzling instant in eternity.”
  • The Edge of Time: 60 Photographs of Mexico reflects the way Mariana Yampolsky photographed rural Mexico and its people with respect and infinite care. Her images function both as works of art and as evidence of moments in Mexico’s history when ways of life that have endured for centuries faced the onslaught of modernization.
Photo from the Wittliff Collections

Solar eclipse by Antonio Turok

Everyone is invited to the come-and-go open house celebrating the anniversary exhibitions on Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Curators will be on hand to chat and answer questions, and anniversary cake will be served. Other events hosted by the Wittliff this semester—all of which are also free—include: a conversation between novelists and Wittliff donors Sarah Bird, Elizabeth Crook and Stephen Harrigan on Oct. 6; a tribute to Elizabeth Bishop on Sept. 22; and numerous readings and book signings with a variety of writers, among them internationally renowned poet Thomas Lux on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 3:30 p.m.

Find exhibitions and events calendars, as well as research topic ideas for papers and projects on the Wittliff Collections website, or follow the Wittliff Collections on Facebook.

For more information, contact Michele Miller at 512-245-2313 or via e-mail at

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