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View of the "Backwards in High Heels" exhibit, 2014

View of the "Backwards in High Heels" exhibit, 2014


The Austin History Center presents one to two large-scale exhibits related to Austin history each year. Two additional smaller photograph exhibits take place in the David Earl Holt Memorial Photo Gallery twice a year on a staggered schedule to ensure that there is always something exciting to see at the Austin History Center.

Our exhibits are created by AHC staff using our existing collections of photographs and documents.  Our exhibits serve as an important vehicle for outreach to the community, as we often time them with anniversaries and other exciting events happening in the larger Austin area.  Exhibits are always free and open to the public for viewing.

Check out what's showing now.

Current Exhibits

Current Exhibits link

promotional graphic featuring Asian American filmmakers

Now on view in the Holt Gallery

In/Visible A: The Building of an Asian American Film Community

This vibrant exhibition reveals Austin Asian American Film Festival's (AAAFF) evolution from a small film-centric event to a major cultural arts organization.

In/Visible A provides a comprehensive look into AAAFF's history, featuring photographs, posters, program guides, and other records. The exhibit traces the festival's origins and growth, highlighting its role in amplifying Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) voices in Austin's cultural landscape and its emergence as a hub for storytelling and cultural exploration.

This retrospective aims to emphasize the significance of representation in media and the influential role of film in community dialogue. It offers visitors insights into AAAFF's dedication to showcasing diverse AANHPI narratives and its contributions to Austin's cultural diversity.

*Artwork displayed in the banner was created by Emily Ding

Traveling Exhibits

Traveling Exhibits link

The Bobby Dixon Kollective Fusion Poster Exhibition: Celebrating Hip Hop Through Artistry and Design

Bobby Dixon

This exhibition celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop through the work of local artist and designer Bobby Dixon of Kollective Fusion (AKA KLCTVE Design + Illustration).  For two decades, Bobby has produced screen-printed concert posters for local, national, and international acts. The posters in this exhibition showcase Bobby's artistic design in works created for prominent hip-hop performers that have graced Austin stages. The posters in this exhibit were all created by Bobby Dixon and have been thoughtfully curated to commemorate the 50 Years of Hip Hop project led by the Queens Public Library, in collaboration with more than twenty museums, libraries, and archives from across the nation.”

On display March 26th - May 23rd  | Location:  Ruiz Branch Library - 1600 Grove Blvd, Austin, TX



We’ll Just Rock for Ourselves: Selections from the Lisa Davis Photograph Archive

We'll just rock for ourselves: Selections from the Lisa Davis Photograph Archive

We’ll Just Rock for Ourselves presents photographs from the  Lisa Davis Photograph Archive  (AR.2011.022) that document Austin’s lesbian musicians and LGBTQ activists of the 1990s. The title is taken from the Power Snatch song, “No Thanks (We’ll Just Rock for Ourselves),” which was written in response to the song “Intellectuals Rocking for Women” by the all-male band the Pocket FishRmen. Photographs and video footage of Power Snatch, the 1990s all-female punk band of Cindy Widner, Darcee Douglas, Terri Lord, Laura Creedle and Kate Messer are featured in the exhibit along with documentation of the bands Girls in the Nose, The Gretchen Phillips Xperience, Sincola, Two Nice Girls, and Swine King. The genres of these bands ranged from folk to experimental to funk, but at the core was the punk ethos of nonconformity and individuality.

On display June 2023 - June 2024 | Location: Austin Public Central Library - 710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701 4th floor

Online Exhibits

Online Exhibits link

Art and Archives: Veronica Ceci at the Austin History Center, September 18, 2022 - January 8, 2023

Art and Archives postcard design

This exhibit presents a selection of photographs, sketches, prints, archival materials, and artifacts documenting Austin artist Veronica Ceci's work on their public art projects Meander (2018) and Quinquagenary (2021). 



Austin Proud: A History of Pride Parades in Austin, 1971-2002, August 2022 - June 2023

People holding Austin banner at March on Austin on April 30, 1989
Austin Proud Logo

This exhibit presents photographs, flyers, and clippings from the Austin History Center collections documenting the history of Austin's LGBTQ Pride parades and marches from 1971-2002.



Taking it to the Streets: A Visual History of Protest and Demonstration in Austin, July 31, 2018 - October 28, 2018

Protests in Austin

This exhibit presents a snapshot look at how the public confronted the political and social issues of their time. Diverse images from a variety of Austin History Center collections highlight Austin residents in their earnest efforts to create social change in their communities



Our Community, Our Voice: Photographs from The Villager Newspaper, January 30, 2020 – May 22, 2022

Villager Newspaper

This exhibit presents a selection of photographs from The Villager Newspaper Photograph Collection (AR.2001.002) that capture local community members in striking images, illustrating the vibrancy of Austin’s black population. Marching bands, community leaders, theater groups, protests, musicians, churches, and neighborhood groups portray life in black Austin through the decades.



Perlas ng Austin (The Pearls of Austin)

Perlas banner

This virtual exhibit was made in collaboration with the Austin Filipino-American Association (AFAA), Asian American Resource Center and the Austin History Center's Asian American Community Archives Program as a celebration of the Central Texas Filipino community.



Discovering Place: Images from the St. Edward’s University Documentary Photography Project, November 4, 2019 – January 19, 2020

St Edwards' University

The St. Edward's University Austin Documentary Photography Project is a partnership between St. Edward's University and the Austin History Center wherein students learned how to create visually engaging and intellectually challenging stories of the people and places of Austin. The partnership resulted in the St. Edward's University Austin Documentary Photography Project Collection (AR.2019.026), consisting primarily of digital photographs documenting various facets of the Austin area community as selected by the student photographers. 



Treat Me Like a Saturday Night: The Joe Ely Photographs from the Cindy Light Collection, July 30, 2019 – October 27, 2019

Joe Ely Photos

Cindy Light is an Austin-based photographer who shot many performances of Austin musicians such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Ely, and Doug Sahm as well as international acts such as Sting, Michael Jackson, and Paul McCartney. This exhibit highlights photos from her collection (AR.2019.016) that span 1986-1990 and primarily feature Joe Ely with bandmates David Grissom, Jimmy Pettit, and Davis McLarty who represent Ely’s late 1980s – early 1990s heyday. 



Austin Icons of the 1980s: Selections from the Bill Leissner Photograph Collection, April 30, 2019 – July 21, 2019

Bill Leissner Photos

In 2016 Bill Leissner began the process of digitizing his 100,000-image archive of Austin performance, politics, and social culture. This exhibit is the first result of these efforts – a brief selection of 16 images from his archive (AR.2019.004) representing icons of 1980s Austin, at least icons through the lens of his camera.



Vietnam to Austin: Restoring Community, February 21, 2009 - July 17, 2009

Vietnamese Austin

Explore the history, transition, and contributions of local Vietnamese Americans in Austin. This exhibit presents a selection of powerful personal stories and photographs from the orginal large-scale 2009 exhibition. 



Tune In To Health: A Radio Program for Travis County Rural Schools, February 5, 2019 – April 21, 2019

Tune in to health

This exhibit presents photograph selections from the Texas Extended School and Community Health Education Program Records (AR.2002.017) archived at the Austin History Center. The collection features over 200 black and white photographs from the 1949-1950 school year of the Healthy Living in Our County radio program, a public health education initiative tailored for Travis County rural school classrooms. The exhibit images provide a rare glimpse into these rural school communities, capturing student activity, school segregation, home living conditions, school infrastructure, and engagement with the Healthy Living in Our Country radio curriculum.



We’ll Just Rock For Ourselves: Selections from the Lisa Davis Photograph Archive, April 24, 2018 – July 22, 2018

Lisa Davis Photos

This exhibit presents selections from the Lisa Davis Photograph Archive (AR.2010.022). The exhibition focuses on Davis’s documentation of the lesbian music community in Austin during the early 1990s.



Clearing Stones Sowing Seeds: Photographs from the Travis County Negro Extension Service Collection, February 6, 2018 - April 15, 2018

Travis County Negro Extension Service Collection

This exhibit presents selections from the Travis County Negro Extension Service Photography Collection (AR.2000.025). The photographs, taken between 1940 and 1964, document the variety of services and educational programs offered by the Extension Service, including animal husbandry, crafts, domestic education, gardening and agriculture, and home improvement.



Early Chinese Families of Austin

Family portrait of the Lung family

Asian American families who ended up in Austin built a life for themselves by opening up businesses and immersing themselves into the community. All of their hard work paved the way for future immigrants and Asian Americans who settled down in Austin.



Fehr and Granger: Austin Modernists

Fehr and Granger

An exhibit of photographs documenting the works of Mid-Century architects Arthur Fehr and Charles Granger.



Backwards in High Heels: Getting Women Elected, 1842-1990

Ann Richards
PICB 19746

This exhibition is the Austin History Center’s look at the local women who have played a significant part in politics in Texas’ capital city.



O. Henry in Austin

O. Henry
PICB 07214

In 2010 the AHC partnered with the Texas General Land Office and the State Preservation Board to create an online collection of O. Henry materials at the Portal to Texas History. The collection includes photographs, original manuscript material, first printings of many of his short stories, and scans of some of his collected works.



Austin Public Library Jubilee: 75 Years of Building Community

Bookmobile with a line of people
PICA 01442

The Austin Public Library celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2001. The exhibit traced the history of the Austin Public Library from its humble beginnings in a small upstairs room on Congress Avenue in 1926 all the way up to present day. The full exhibit was on display May 4-October 28, 2001.



Train Tracks: A Journey on Austin's Railways

Steam engine train
PICA 18441

A gallery of photographs takes you on a journey on Austin's original railways.



Defining Legacies: For the Love of Austin

Sketch of Jacob Fontaine
PICB 02905

This exhibit tells the stories of people whose legacies helped define Austin--from the end of the Civil War to the more recent impact of a few noteworthy citizens. In this exhibit, we pay homage to just a few of those individuals whose activities are documented in the archives of the Austin History Center.



Austin's Creeks

Women standing in a creek
PICA 02672

The Austin History Center, in association with the City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department, presents a tribute to Austin's creeks, originally on display September 7-November 22, 1999. This exhibit presents the story of Austin's creeks and their place in Austin's life and livelihood.



Wings Over Austin: The History of Austin Aviation

Woman with hands on a propellor
PICA 19600

This is an exhibit that follows the flight path of our city's aviation story, from the city's first airplane landing through the transformation of Bergstrom Air Force Base into the new Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The complete exhibit was at the Austin History Center May 10-August 29, 1999.



Austin Treasures

Austin Treasures is made up of ten separate exhibits on differing themes.  Originally created through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's TexTreasures Grant program in 2001, they have been preserved in their original state and reflect the Web design esthetics and capabilities of their time. The following exhibits comprise Austin Treasures:



Austin Beginnings

Map of Austin
PICA 00331

Austin's history has been filled with events great and small, significant and trivial, historic and amusing. All have contributed to building the city that is first in our hearts. Finding these milestones is one of the pleasures of conducting research in the Austin History Center.



Lost Victorian Austin

Victorian home
PICH 00696

In the early 1970s, just as the historic preservation movement was flowering throughout the nation, Austin lost three significant Victorian-style houses in the central downtown area: the Butler House, the Houghton House, and the Hunnicutt House.



Jane McCallum/Suffrage Movement

Jane McCallum
PICB 13189

Drawing on materials from the Jane McCallum Papers (AR.E.004), this exhibit looks at the work of the Austin Suffrage Association and women who played key roles in the movement.



Red Points and Ration Cards

Three women in uniform holding papers
PICA 27170

An exhibit exploring life in Austin during World War II when Austin was known as a "Home Away from Home" for over 20,000 military personnel and their families. Austinites found ways to entertain the troops as they came into the city each weekend from nearby Camp Gary, Fort Hood, Camp Swift, and Bergstrom Field. Join us  for a look at life in Austin during World War II.



Just Outside Austin

Bull Creek
PICA 20591

This exhibit explores the rural areas surrounding Austin, including North, Northeast, East, West and Northwest areas of Travis County, Pflugerville, Manor, Sprinkle, Hunters Bend, Manchaca, and Wheatville.



Capitol Views

Construction of Capitol

Originally created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Capitol in 1988, this exhibit depicts the history that led up to the need for a new Capitol building, the construction, the celebration of the completion, and the building as a place of work and decision making.



Green Growth

Picture of a pagoda
PICA 09283

The exhibit "Green Growth" profiles some of the individuals and organizations that have given of themselves for the enhancement of Austin's natural beauty, and the public and private spaces that they have enhanced.



Austin Streets

Congress Street
PICA 02442

 This exhibit looks at some of Austin's major streets over time and provides the origins of many street names.



Austin at Work

Leather and Sons Factory
PICA 15506

A look through the photo files of the Austin History Center helps illustrate some of the changes over time in working life of Austinites.



Hyde Park

Hyde Park
PICA 02628

This exhibit celebrates Hyde Park, portraying life in the streetcar era when doors were never locked and did not need to be. These photographs offer a portal through which viewers can step back in time to experience for themselves life on the avenues.

Exhibit Videos

Exhibit Videos link

Abriendo Brecha-Making Our Way

Created in conjunction with the Austin History Center's exhibit, "Mexican American Firsts: Trailblazers of Austin and Travis County," in August of 2010.



The First Picture Shows: Historic Austin Movie Houses

Created in conjunction with the Austin History Center's exhibit of the same title in spring of 2012.