Harry Ransom Center
archive, library, and museum at the University of Texas at Austin



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Harry Ransom Center
archive, library, and museum at the University of Texas at Austin
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300 W 21st St
Austin, Texas
United States

More about Harry Ransom Center

cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

Whole lotta literature, with some nice Fridas and Picassos thrown in for good measure.

Seriously. You can find some of the coolest stuff in Texas at the Harry Ransom Center, housed on the University of Texas, Austin campus. Sure, the collection focuses on literature. But that doesn't mean you can't find originals from William Blake and Albrecht Dürer cropping up here and there. Pro-tip, though: Some of their best stuff might be for reserved for the more scholastically inclined, for degree-seeking individuals if you catch my drift. If there's something there you want to check out, look it up ahead of time so you don't get thoroughly disappointed on arrival, putting you at risk for a very public meltdown. The HRC isn't being miserly with all their awesome art. It's just that the institution is doing a balancing act between the needs of its visitors hoping to see art and not be bored to death and the needs of those nerds hoping to study.

The place was started by (SPOILER ALERT) Harry Ransom, who joined the University of Texas as an English instructor. Ransom put his academic career on hold to serve in the Air Force during World War II, reaching a rank of major. Ransom went into the school's administration after the war, climbing the company ladder all the way to the very seat of power. He was running the whole University of Texas system as chancellor in no time.

When it was time to move on from the UT system, Harry left the campus a parting gift with the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. Which, today, is the Harry Ransom Center. The center's collection started out with a lean focus on examples of 20th century English language literature for scholarly study. Today, the center boasts a world-class collections of literary history for the serious lit nerd. They've got all the greatest hits, like a Guttenberg Bible (acquired in Harry Ransom's memory), a First Folio, and the Cardigan manuscript of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. *Literary swoon*.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Harry Ransom Center

The Harry Ransom Center (until 1983 the Humanities Research Center) is an archive, library and museum at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in the collection of literary and cultural artifacts from the Americas and Europe for the purpose of advancing the study of the arts and humanities. The Ransom Center houses 36 million literary manuscripts, one million rare books, five million photographs, and more than 100,000 works of art.

The Center has a reading room for scholars and galleries which display rotating exhibitions of works and objects from the collections. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the center hosted nearly 6,000 research visits resulting in the publication of over 145 books.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Harry Ransom Center.