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UH’s Blaffer Art Museum Celebrates 50 Years

blaffer museum night

The Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston illuminated the Houston art scene with its 50th Anniversary Celebration, “Ruby & Gold.” The total raised over the entire 50th Anniversary campaign, now nearing $500,000, marked a milestone event commemorating five decades of influencing the local, national and international art landscape.

The museum was adorned with a gold balloon installation inspired by Andy Warhol’s 1966 “Silver Clouds.” The gold balloons, reminiscent of Warhol’s iconic style, symbolized the institution’s historical significance while embracing contemporary artistic expression.


The evening commenced with a lively cocktail hour and silent auction, featuring artwork from some of the most illustrious and enduring artists who have exhibited at the Blaffer Art Museum over the past half-century. This exclusive collection was specially curated by a distinguished group of former Blaffer directors, including William Robinson, Marti Mayo, Don Bacigalupi, Terrie Sultan and Claudia Schmuckli, as well as the current Jane Dale Owen Director and Chief Curator, Steven Matijcio. Each director selected artists with whom they worked closely during their tenure, reflecting the enduring relationships forged over the years.

The works, collaboratively chosen for their accessibility, impact and signature aesthetics not only showcased the rich history of the museum but also served as a testament to the deep connections between the artists and the institution. In addition to the silent auction, guests had the opportunity to immerse themselves in an exhibition curated by Cynthia Woods Mitchell Assistant Curator Erika Mei Chua Holum, showcasing select pieces from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Collection housed at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

The evening continued with a series of events, including welcome remarks by Matijcio and Paul Seifert, Blaffer Advisory Board chair. The premiere of the 50th anniversary catalog and anniversary video added a multimedia touch to the celebration, providing a visual journey through the museum's influential history.

A seated dinner followed, accompanied by remarks from Andrew Davis, dean of the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts, gala co-chairs Kaleta Blaffer Johnson, Abigail Owen-Pontez and Wirt Blaffer, highlighting the collaborative effort that made the celebration possible, and a congratulatory video by UH President Renu Khator.

To commemorate the occasion, multidisciplinary artist Robert Hodge crafted 160 special vinyl artworks as tokens of gratitude, thanks to the invaluable contributions of Advisory Board member Debra Barrera. These limited edition, small vinyl laser cuts are embodiments of appreciation, meant to be both displayed and played in honor of a shared artistic vision. The night culminated in a dance party curated by Houston-based DJ and record producer, DJ Sun.

“The event was an enormous success and provided a golden opportunity to connect with so many directors, board members, staff, gallerists and artists who played a part in this museum over the years. There is an enduring pride of place here, for how this museum connects the University of Houston with the larger city and world; for the integral role it plays in the lives of young students as they navigate careers in the arts; and for providing our community with programs that champion the vitality of contemporary art today,” Matijcio said.

Notably, all funds raised from this year’s art auction will be allocated to the Blaffer's NEXT program. This initiative supports Houston-based artists, as well as those working nationally and internationally, by offering them their first major solo museum exhibition. In this way, the Blaffer Art Museum continues to bridge the past and the future, ensuring that the legacy of artistic excellence lives on for generations to come.

Read more as past directors, board members and alumni reflect on the museum's enduring impact.

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