Austin at Mid-Century, Exhibit Opening at the Austin History Center

This was originally published several months ago, so it may be out of date.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Austin at Mid-Century, Exhibit Opening at the Austin History Center
PHOTO Villa Capri Hotel Lobby Interior, DM-59-26061, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
PHOTO Villa Capri Hotel Lobby Interior, DM-59-26061, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

The Austin History Center is pleased to announce the completion of a 2017 TexTreasures grant project. The Austin History Center staff has cataloged about 50,000 negatives from the Dewey Mears Photograph Archive documenting Central Texas architecture, businesses, people, and events from the 1940s through 1990s. This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and Texas State Library and Archives Commission. (2016) 

Donated by Mears’ family to the AHC in 2014, the collection has remained completely inaccessible to researchers until now. A finding aid for the collection with an inventory of the negatives is available online. A selection of digitized images is forthcoming on the Portal to Texas History

To celebrate the completion of the grant, the AHC is mounting an exhibit, Austin at Mid-Century: Photographs by Dewey Mears. Opening on Tuesday, August 29 in the David Earl Holt Gallery at the Austin History Center and on display through January 14, the exhibit will showcase more than 20 images illustrating mid-century modern architecture and lifestyle in Austin.

An informal opening reception will be held on Tuesday, August 29 at 6:30 PM. The reception is free and open to the public and refreshments will be provided. APL Night Crafters are co-hosting the reception and will teach visitors how to make their own mid-century inspired mobile. Librarians from APL’s pop-up library will have books on mid-century modern art and architecture available to check out.

For more information call 512-974-7480 or visit

About the Collection 
Dewey Mears was the preeminent architectural photographer in Central Texas in the late 20th century. During World War II Mears was an official US Army photographer at Camp Swift, and after being discharged he began his career in Austin taking a variety of jobs, including advertising and event photography. By the mid-1950s he focused his efforts on architectural documentation. Mears reproduced renderings and drawings, photographed building construction, and documented finished buildings, especially buildings in the celebrated mid-century modern style. Among the architectural firms represented in the collection are Jessen Jessen Millhouse & Greeven; Fehr & Granger; Kuehne Brooks & Barr; and Page Southerland Page, among many others. Prominent buildings pictured include Austin’s Municipal Auditorium, the Flawn Academic Center at the University of Texas, the Commodore Perry Hotel, the Driskill Hotel, and Villa Capri restaurant and hotel.

About the Austin History Center
As the local history collection of the Austin Public Library, the Austin History Center provides the public with information about the history, current events and activities of Austin and Travis County. The Center collects and preserves information about local governments, businesses, residents, institutions and neighborhoods so that generations to come will have access to their history.

About the Texas State Library and Archives Commission
The mission of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is to provide Texans access to the information needed to be informed, productive citizens by preserving the archival record of Texas; enhancing the service capacity of public, academic, and school libraries; assisting public agencies in the maintenance of their records; and meeting the reading needs of Texans with disabilities.