Museums and Cultural Programs Logo

The museums and cultural programs of Austin's Parks and Recreation Department give voice to Austin's imagination and colorful past. Visit our museums, cultural centers, cemeteries, and outdoor theater for a memorable glimpse of what makes Austin unique.

Museum and Cultural Programs Sites

Asian American Resource Center
Dougherty Arts Center
Elisabet Ney Museum
Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
George Washington Carver Museum
Old Bakery & Emporium
O. Henry Museum
Oakwood Cemetery Chapel
Susanna Dickinson Museum
Zilker Hillside Theater

Digital Programming

In light of the recent Stay Home-Work Safe Order requiring residents to stay home as much as possible, the Museums and Cultural Programs Division offers free digital programming for the public. Visit each respective sites' digital programming links below for more information. Programs will be updated on a weekly basis beginning in mid-April 2020. 

Asian American Resource Center
Dougherty Arts Center
George Washington Carver Museum
Elisabet Ney Museum
Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
Oakwood Cemetery Chapel
O. Henry Museum

ArtsResponders: MCP Division Call for Social Practice Proposals

Ends on September 20, 2020

The Museum & Cultural Programs of the Austin Parks & Recreation Department is now accepting Social Practice Proposals for:

ArtsResponders: Social Practice Responds to COVID-19

Applications Accepted August 17, 2020 to 11:59 pm, September 20, 2020 

Apply at:


The Austin Parks and Recreation Department’s Museums and Cultural Programs is launching ArtsResponders: Social Practice Responds to COVID-19. Cultural Centers including The Dougherty Arts Center, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, the George Washington Museum Genealogy and Cultural Center, and the Asian American Resource Center and museums like the Ney and Oakwood Cemetery Chapel will commission artists to train in Social Practice, and to organize and engage community in an artistic response to cope with and overcome COVID-19. The program will run October 5 to March 31, 2020.

Socially engaged practice, according to the Tate Museum, “describes art that is collaborative, often participatory and involves people as the medium or material of the work.” It can include “any art form and involves people and communities in debate, collaboration or social interaction.” Social practice uses the participatory element as the artwork, integrally developing an idea and turning it into public will. 

Learn more about social practice here. Use the conversations and examples provided in this video to help you formulate your idea for a social practice project.

As the City of Austin heads into the fall and winter season, the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths could rise.  Additionally, Austinites may face Thanksgiving without family and the holidays without the bustle of the Trail of Lights and holiday shopping. Public Will to resist COVID-19 may begin to diminish. ArtsResponders will address the issue of resisting COVID-19 in the face of every temptation to do otherwise by organizing public participation in art actions that bring home the message. 

The requirements of the project and the program include:

· The Art Action must be outdoors. Preparations can take place indoors or online.

· Art Action will be assigned to one of the 10 Council Districts.

· Art Action can be in any artistic discipline. Artist is not required to have previous experience in Social Practice: just the ability to conceptualize an effective art action that achieves the goal.

· Art Action must be conducted in a “safe” manner, with masks and social distancing where necessary.

· Art Actions must carry accurate messages about COVID-19 and promote safe behaviors.

· Art Actions must engage the public in circumstances that assure their safety. 

· Fee for service is $2000 inclusive of all materials, labor and subcontractors.

· Artist must participate in online orientation and training workshop.

· Selected artists must become vendors of the City of Austin by October 5th.

· MCP Sites will be responsible for publicity, marketing and documentation but the artist is expected to use their lists for further online promotion.


Proposals from artists of all disciplines will be received via Submittable between August 17 to September 20 at 11:59pm. Notifications will take place no later than September 30. The program will begin the week of October 5, 2020.

Selection Panel

A panel of City staff members, including members of the Museums and Cultural Programs Division, Safety, Parks Rangers and Community Engagement Divisions, would assist with adjudicating and selecting the artists. Site managers will make the final selections. 


Selection panelists will use the following criteria to score the finalists:

· An arts or performance resume demonstrating the capacity to complete projects. 20 points

· Resume with verified examples of Social Practice art projects. 10 points

· Reviews or references and photos of a Social Practice art project by the proposing artist. 10 points

· Demonstrated ability to effectively conceptualize Social Practice projects by changing public will, feelings, behavior or social circumstance. 20 points

· Demonstrated ability to think through and describe the logistical requirements of a Social Practice art project. 20 points

· The City of Austin is committed to supporting communities most impacted by COVID-19, that include but are not limited to: communities of color, women, immigrants, people living with disabilities, gender non-conforming people, people experiencing homelessness, and people experiencing economic hardship as the result of this national pandemic. Project proposals fitting this criteria, 20 points

How to Apply to the Museum & Cultural Programs Call for Social Practice Proposals:

Submit your application by the deadline of September 20, 2020 at 11:59pm at:


Please scroll down to view application. Detailed information about each section is provided in the application.

The online application includes: 

1. Contact information for the Artist/Musician/Performer

2. What District you live in. View the Council District Map to determine your district here:

3. Proposed project description.

4. Artist Statement from the Artist/Musician/Performer

5. Example images and/or performance videos.

6. Image/video list.
Frequently Asked Questions: 

Do I need to have completed a Social Practice project previously?

  • No, you do not need experience in social practice but we do need a good understanding of what you can accomplish. Please scroll up to review the video provided about Social Practice. This will give you a better idea of what Social Practice is and what type of ideas we are looking for.

What restrictions are there for works of art?   

  • Projects/Performances must be appropriate for public view. Works that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance, or contain obscene material are prohibited.

Can works of art be sold or tickets made available for sale? 

  • If selected, artists/musicians/performers will receive funding to be used for the completion of this project. Social Practice projects will be available to view or interact with at no charge to the public. However, the artist may create and sell reproductions of the social practice piece through prints, music recordings, etc.  

  Who is responsible for the installation, production and promotion of the project?

  • If selected, the $2000 Fee for Service is inclusive of all materials, labor and subcontractors. Artists/musicians/performers will work closely with the Museums & Cultural Programs Division sites to insure that installation and production are completed. The Museums & Cultural Programs will promote the project through it's marketing channels. The Artists/musicians/performers are expected to co-promote through websites and social media available to them.

  When will I know if my Social Practice Proposal has been accepted? 

  •  Notifications will take place no later than September 30. The program will begin the week of October 5, 2020.

Who can I contact if I have any questions?