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Life & Arts

AMOA Merges With Arthouse

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Photo by manue_aka_crazeecrafteez http://www.flickr.com/photos/manueb/
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An historic villa on AMOA's 12-acre property at Laguna Gloria

They’ve been seeing each other for a few months now. A photo exhibit here. Some intimate conversations there. Now it’s official: The Austin Museum of Art and the Arthouse at the Jones Center are getting hitched.

The boards of both organizations approved the merger, and hope to save more than $1 million in operating costs in the first year.

The new organization will own AMOA’s 1912 villa on the 12-acre Laguna Gloria site next to Lake Austin. It will also own the Arthouse at the Jones Center’s exhibition space at 700 Congress Avenue.

AMOA's bank account grew significantly last year when it sold a vacant lot near Republic Square Park to Travis County for almost $22 million.

But actually hammering out the details of how to integrate day-to-day operations may prove to be a challenge, according to Claire Rudd at the Glasstire blog.

AMoA has been focused on attracting families with relatively traditional work, and Arthouse has been focused on attracting a young professional crowd with relatively contemporary work. AMoA has historically been a larger, more hierarchical organization, while Arthouse historically been a smaller, “flatter” organization.

Both organizations have had their share of problems recently, as Austin American-Statesman arts writer Jeanne Claire van Ryzin points out. Among other things, AMOA lost its executive director in January, and decided not to renew its lease at a Congress Ave. location it had rented since 1995, while the Arthouse recently trimmed its budget and laid off employees.