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Austin City Limits Iconic Backdrop Panels Are Up For Auction

The downtown Austin city skyline seen as the stage backdrops of Studio 6A, the original home to Austin City Limits music venue, at Austin's PBS station KLRU on the University of Texas campus on July 12, 2021.
Gabriel C. Pérez
Panels depicting the Austin skyline that were used as the backdrop for Austin City Limits on PBS for decades are up for auction.

Austin PBS is auctioning off the background used on the music performance TV show Austin City Limits.

The 20 panels depicting the city’s skyline, including the Capitol and UT Tower, were used as the show's backdrop from 1982 to 2010 and were seen on PBS stations across the country.

In 2010, filming moved from the UT Austin campus to the Moody Theater downtown, where a new but similar background was built. The original panels remained at UT's Studio 6A, which Austin PBS continued to use for other events and shows. But, now, the public television station is moving completely out of that space to Austin Community College's Highland Campus.

Leaving Studio 6A means the station has to remove the original panels. So, it's putting them up for an online auction.

Austin PBS General Manager Bill Stotesbery said it’s difficult to auction off a part of the station and the show’s history. The iconic panels served as the backdrop for musical performances from artists like Ray Charles, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jack Johnson, Coldplay and Willie Nelson.

“It’s hard to see them go, but it is inevitable that things change,” Stotesbery said. “And this is one of those opportunities to use them to the advantage that they offer, which is perhaps raising some money for a really worthwhile cause.”

The money from the auction will help pay for equipment at the station’s new studio offices.

“It’s always hard to see things that have been that longstanding change,” Stotesbery said. “But in this particular case, I’m very happy that they’ll find a home with somebody who wants them and, I hope, will find a way to display them.”

The panels are large. The one depicting the Texas Capitol is 8 feet wide and 9 feet tall.

Bidding for each panel starts at $500. The auction started Monday and runs until July 22 at 10 a.m.

Sangita Menon is a general assignment reporter for KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @sangitamenon.
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