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Texas Performing Arts Extends Behind the Scenes: The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop Through Sunday, April 18 and Adds Guided Virtual Tour Option

Texas Performing Arts Extends Behind the Scenes: The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop Through Sunday, April 18 and Adds Guided Virtual Tour Option

Monday, March 8, 2021

Media Contact:  Motley Crew Media for Broadway in Austin
Shannon L. Boggus | 512.773.7249 | shannon.boggus@motleycrewmedia.com
Amy S. Layton | 512.695.0799 | amy.layton@motleycrewmedia.com

Texas Performing Arts Extends Behind the Scenes: The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop Through Sunday, April 18 and Adds Guided Virtual Tour Option

Reservations for extended timed in-person admission tickets and virtual tour available March 10

Austin, TX - Due to high demand for Behind the Scenes: The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, Texas Performing Arts will extend the exhibit through Sunday, April 18. For individuals unable to attend in-person, a guided virtual tour will be available beginning Wednesday, March 10 with resident expert and curator Karen L. Maness, Scenic Art Supervisor for Texas Performing Arts. Experience never before publicly displayed backdrops by artists who shaped cinematic history.

Health and safety guidelines including the requirement for everyone 2 years and older to wear a face covering while visiting the exhibit remain in effect. Capacity for each timed entry slot is very limited and the exhibition has been designed to promote social distancing.  Full guidelines and information are available at texasperformingarts.org.

The vast Bass Concert Hall Stage turns gallery as Texas Performing Arts presents Behind the Scenes: The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop. Visit mid-century Hollywood via these Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio assets without leaving Austin either through an up-close and in-person view or from the comfort of your own home. This first-ever public viewing of twelve historic Golden Age of film backdrops looks into the nearly lost art of hand-painted Hollywood motion picture scenic art. UT Austin now owns the largest educational collection of Hollywood Motion Picture backdrops in the world. Reservations for  timed admission tickets are available now and guided virtual tour tickets go on sale Wednesday, March 10 at texasperformingarts.org.

In 2012, the Art Directors Guild (ADG) Archives began to chronicle the unsung contributions of Hollywood’s motion picture scenic artists. Working closely with the ADG, University of Texas at Austin faculty members Karen Maness and Richard Isackes co-authored The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, published by Regan Arts (2016). The award-winning volume is the definitive behind-the-scenes history of one of Hollywood’s most closely guarded cinematic secrets—painted backdrops and the scenic artists who brought them to the big screen. In 2017 the ADG Archives Backdrop Recovery Project was launched in partnership with J.C. Backings. This commitment resulted in rescuing 207 historic backings from destruction and creating the world's most comprehensive archive of Hollywood scenic art history.


  • Tip on a Dead Jockey (MGM 1957), Madrid rooftop panorama - 18’-9” x 12’
  • National Velvet (MGM 1944), exterior of small cottage - Opaque Technicolor 13’-11” x 9’-4”
  • Young Bess (MGM 1953), exterior view of Westminster Abbey in the 1950’s - 40’ x 20’-2”
  • Young Bess (MGM 1953), exterior of Hampton Court in the 1550s - 35’ x 15’-6”
  • Two Weeks in Another Town (MGM 1962), interior of a hotel lobby in Rome, Italy, in the 1960s - Translucent 30’ x 19’-10”
  • National Velvet (MGM 1944), exterior of the small town of Sewels in Sussex, England in the late 1920s - Translucent 39’ x 32’
  • The Prodigal (MGM 1955), a view of a pagan idol inside a temple in Damascus in 70 BC- Opaque Technicolor 22’-2” x 16’
  • The Prodigal (MGM 1955), exterior temple courtyard and tents in the Gardens of Pleasure of Damascus in 70 BC - Opaque Technicolor 24’ x 22’
  • The Student Prince (MGM 1954), interior of a German cathedral in fictional Karlsburg near the turn of the 20th century - Back Painted Translucent 35’-2” x 20’-3”
  • Two Loves (MGM 1961), exterior view of a trailer park in Pennsylvania in 1961 - Back Painted Translucent 41’ x 30’
  • The Outrage (MGM 1964), a view of southwestern United States, the Sonoran Desert, in the 1870s - Back Painted Translucent 30’ x 93’
  • The Glass Bottom Boat (MGM 1966), a view of Avalon, a city on Santa Catalina Island, in 1966 - Translucent 35’-10” x 19’-10”

The exhibit is open by reservation for one-hour long visits on Thursdays through Sundays to April 18. Timed slots are available at 2:30 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm on Thursdays and Fridays and at 10 am, 10:45 am, 11:30 am, 2 pm, 2:45 pm and 3:30 pm on weekends. The number of visitors per one-hour timed entry slot is strictly limited.  Advanced reservations are required and available now at texasperformingarts.org.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $ 5 for non-University of Texas at Austin students of any age.  Tickets are free for UT students, faculty and staff, healthcare professionals, essential workers, military and Texas Inner Circle Members.

Tickets for the guided virtual tour are $10 and available beginning Wednesday, March 10 at 10 am CST. Virtual tour tickets are free for Texas Inner Circle members. For on-demand purchase go to texasperformingarts.org.

Karen Maness is the principal instructor of scenic art and figurative painting for the Department of Theatre & Dance at The University of Texas at Austin and Scenic Art Supervisor at Texas Performing Arts. Maness studied studio art and set design at Whittier College. She continued her studies at Cobalt Studios in White Lake, New York, and The Florence Academy of Art in Italy. Her career as a scenic artist and practicing studio artist spans thirty years, with works held in private collections worldwide.

Texas Performing Arts is the performing arts presenting program of The University of Texas at Austin and operates campus venues including Bass Concert Hall and McCullough Theatre.  It is the home of the Lexus Broadway in Austin series. In calendar year 2019 Bass Concert Hall had the highest number of tickets sold of any theater in Austin, was #2 in the State of Texas and #22 in the world, according to industry publication Pollstar. Following a national search, Tony Award-winning producer Bob Bursey was appointed Executive Director in January 2020.

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