- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Four miles from the bustling state capitol, a castle-like structure sits in a corner of Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood. It’s built from white stones, complete with columns and a square tower. Out front, a field of native greenery teeming with tall purple and yellow wildflowers seems to have been lifted from the Texas plains and left to grow as nature intended.

This is the Elisabet Ney Museum, a historic site housing works by Ney, a celebrated German sculptor. Ney and her physician-philosopher husband, Edmund Montgomery, left Europe amid political turmoil in 1871 and decided to come to Texas. She established her studio and home here in 1892, naming the site Formosa, Portuguese for beautiful. Over time it became a gathering place for intellectuals, politicians and artists of the area.

Walking on wood-planked floors, visitors can approach the statues of her subjects, ranging from European royalty to Texas heroes of a century ago. Ney’s tools are left scattered about, as if she had just walked away for a moment. One almost expects her to appear and engage in a conversation. A narrow spiral stairway leads to the tower Ney had built for her husband to carry on his work; it’s easy to imagine his footsteps on the stairs.

Outside, a metal geodesic dome - one in a series of contemporary works featured on the 2 ½ acre site - brings visitors back to the 21st century. But the sensibility of that earlier era lingers.


If You Go…

ELISABET NEY MUSEUM: 304 E. 44th St., in the Hyde Park section of Austin, Texas; https://www.austintexas.gov/Elisabetney . Open Wednesday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; closed Monday and Tuesday. Free admission; donations accepted.

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