The Elizabet Ney Museum is a hidden gem tucked away in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Sculptor Elizabet Ney built this studio/residence in 1892 and lived there until her death in 1907. The museum reopened earlier this summer after being closed for remodeling. Improvements include a new roof and restoring the grounds to the original natural landscape.
Born in Germany in 1833, Elizabet Ney studied sculpture under masters in Munich and Berlin. Soon she became well-known herself and sculpted many famous Germans of that time, including Otto von Bismarck and Jacob Grimm. Some of these busts are displayed on the first floor of the museum.
Elizabet and her husband, physician Edmund Montgomery, left Germany around the start of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. The couple settled near Houston, raising their son and managing their plantation there. Some twenty years later, Elizabet was commissioned to create sculptures of Texas heroes Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The museum houses the plaster casts of the statues that now stand in the entrance of the Texas State Capitol.
In 1892, Elizabet decided to purchase land and build a studio in Austin, with hopes of attracting further commissions in the state capitol. The second floor of the museum contains information on the building and on Elizabet’s life in Austin. Her actual bed is displayed, and the story is that she often carried her bed outside to sleep on the roof.
After Elizabet’s death, friends bought the studio and grounds which are now managed by the City of Austin. The contents were bequeathed to the University of Texas, but were to remain in the building. Visiting this free museum is a cool relaxing way to spend an hour on a hot summer afternoon!