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11/2/2011 Houston — Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will launch
a new, searchable Internet database in late 2012 to
document the lives, work, business practices and products
of artists and artisans who worked in Texas the 19th century.
The initiative was announced Saturday at the third biennial
David B. Warren Symposium on American Material
Culture and the Texas Experience. The William J. Hill
Texas Artisans and Artists Archive is named for Houston
philanthropist and collector William J. Hill, who has been a
longtime supporter of Bayou Bend. The goal of the
Archive is to spur new research while focusing greater
attention on Texas contributions to the history of American
decorative arts, as well as painting, photography and other

“This $500,000 gift over five years from Mr. Hill is truly a
„Texas-sized‟ gift that will have a transformative impact on
both Bayou Bend and on Texas decorative-arts research and scholarship,” said Bonnie Campbell, director of Bayou Bend. “The archive is a building block for further research
and has the potential to position Bayou Bend as a destination for understanding the historical context of Texas artisans and artists, as well as the works they created.”
MFAH interim director Gwendolyn H. Goffe
commented, “This project exemplifies Bayou Bend‟s
role as a catalyst for the field of early-American
decorative arts. We are enormously grateful to Mr.
Hill for his generosity in supporting this landmark

“The Archive opens up a whole new adventure, and
will give a focal point to this material that is
commensurate with that in the northeast for the work
of artists and artisans in New England, New York
and Philadelphia,” said Hill. “Knowing where these
wonderful pieces came from and who made them
makes them more understood, more desirable and more meaningful.”

“The results of this project will be immense and important,” said Powell Library Director Margaret Culbertson. “Bayou Bend will conduct vital research to identify these lost Texas artisans and craftspeople. The database will contribute to the working knowledge and discourse of southern arts, Texas arts, and American history. It will be the only comprehensive, widely accessible database devoted to Texas artists and artisans.”
The day-to-day work of this project involves going through public historical records, such as census returns, city and business directories, newspapers, and legal records, including wills and court records. Images of objects in institutional and private collections also will be included in the database. The archive will provide an evolving body of knowledge on Texas artists and artisans—when and where they were born, where they lived, what their craft or art was, who their market was, how they conducted their business practices, when they died, any collections where their work may currently be housed or stored, and any photographic evidence of their work, or any references from letters or newspapers to their work. All of this information will be loaded into a searchable internet database that will be available for free to the public.

“Texas artisans and artists of the 19th century produced significant, and often quite beautiful, works of art and decorative art. However, far too little is known about these artisans and their products and practices,” said curator Michael Brown. “The archive at Bayou Bend will address this dearth of information and thereby encourage scholarship and publication.”
Hill‟s early support of this initiative enables the creation of an advisory board, the establishment of staff including a project coordinator and a field researcher, the purchase of necessary technology such as scanners and cameras, travel costs related to visiting archives and records throughout the state, and a fellowship for a graduate student in the field to work on the project as part of their thesis or dissertation.