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Harry Ransom Center: Free Exhibitions For All

Raised toward our $20,000 Goal
58 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on April 25, at 09:00 AM CDT
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Harry Ransom Center: Free Exhibitions For All


UPDATE: Thank you to all the generous supporters that contributed toward this project and helped spread the word! We are so grateful to have exceeded our goal! 


All funds will count toward our match requirement for this fifth and final year of our NEH Challenge grant, and support our Frank W. Calhoun Exhibition Endowment. These gifts are a great help toward this year's match requirement of $300,000, but we still have a ways to go. 


While gifts are no longer accepted on this page, you can still make a gift at  




UPDATE: We met our original goal! Now we are raising our goal to $25,000 for our future exhibitions. We still have 10 days to go. Thank you for your past and continued support!




The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas encourages discovery, inspires creativity, and advances the understanding of the humanities through free exhibitions that showcase our extraordinary collections for a broad and diverse audience. Your gift will ensure the future of Free Exhibitions For All.


The Ransom Center is a museum, archive, and research library, with holdings of more than 42 million manuscripts, 5 million photographs, 1 million rare books, and 100,000 works of art. Highlights include the Gutenberg Bible (ca. 1455), the Niépce Heliograph (1826), film archives of David O. Selznick and Robert De Niro, paintings by Frida Kahlo, and manuscripts collections of James Joyce, Tennessee Williams, Doris Lessing, Don DeLillo, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, David Foster Wallace, and Kazuo Ishiguro, among many others. 

Public access is at the heart of the Center’s free-admission exhibition program that launched in 2003. Since then, more than 900,000 students and residents from Texas and around the world have visited the Ransom Center free of charge, discovering the exceptional collections while drawing meaningful connections to their own lives.

“No campus library in the U.S. mounts exhibitions to rival those of the University of Texas at Austin’s special-collection library, the Harry Ransom Center.”

(The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2010)

The Need

Without the support of our donors, the Ransom Center could not maintain an exhibition program that gives everyone equal access to experience the University’s treasures. We are in the final year of a five-year challenge to raise funds for exhibitions now and in the future. The generosity of 256 individuals and 41 foundations and corporations has enabled us to meet the challenge match for the last four years. If we are successful this year, total donations and matching funds will create a $2 million endowment, allowing our exhibition program to thrive for years to come. We are calling on our friends and supporters to help us raise $20,000 by April 25. Will you make a gift today?


Stories to Tell, 2017
Matisse's art book Jazz on display during our 2017 exhibition Stories to Tell.

The Potential

The Ransom Center’s exhibition program strives to look inside the creative process, tracing the path of a work’s development from inspiration to realization. The Center’s exhibitions encourage critical thinking about the world and engage visitors with history so they can better understand the present. Our exhibitions offer experiences with original archival materials that few institutions can rival.

Your gift today will help us:

  • continue to develop stellar exhibitions of our world-renowned humanities collection to share with a broad and diverse audience
  • create and launch webpages with interpretive content for our 1.25 million+ online visitors to explore
  • publish exhibition catalogues and companion books
  • collaborate with other museums to extend the reach of our collections through loans of materials
  • travel more of our critically acclaimed exhibitions to museums and libraries around the world

When fully funded, our endowment (named Frank W. Calhoun Exhibition Endowment) will generate at least $80,000 each year, providing a secure revenue stream that will help the exhibition program at the Ransom Center flourish for years to come.

Be Part of the Story

Your gift is critical to the ongoing work of the Ransom Center and our future exhibitions. Help us cross the finish line on this major five-year fundraising challenge- make a gift today in support of Free Exhibitions for All. 


Visitors to Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos into the Digital Age
Visitors at the exhibition Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos into the Digital Age.


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The Ransom Center holds a complete set of Shakespeare's First Folios as well as quartos of his plays. These earliest editions of Shakespeare's works were on display in 2016 during the exhibition "Shakespeare in Print and Performance." Your gift will support our work to share these rare and inspiring collections with students, researchers, and the public.



In 2014, our exhibition "The Making of Gone With The Wind" welcomed a record-breaking number of visitors to the galleries. More than 300 items from the revered film's collections were on display, including the unmistakeable green-velvet curtain dress. With your gift, we can continue to produce high-quality exhibitions that provide intimate perspective on favorite cultural treasures.



In December 2017, the Ransom Center launched an online portal with more than 27,000 images of Gabriel García Márquez's archive, which contains letters, photographs and manuscripts, including the draft for "One Hundred Years of Solitude." Your gift will allow us to develop our digital exhibitions and bring our collections to a wider audience.



Frida Kahlo's "Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird" is one of the Center's most famous and frequently borrowed art works. Since 1990, the painting has traveled to more than 25 museums around the world. Your gift will allow the Ransom Center to expand its reach to travel more exhibitions and to bring more items to the Center through loans.



Joseph Nicéphore Niépce pioneered photography with his heliograph "View from the Window at Le Gras" (ca. 1826), which is on permanent display. Your contribution will allow us to encourage discoveries and bring insight at the intersections of history, science, and art.



Of the 49 copies of the Gutenberg Bible that exist, only 21 are known to be complete. At the Ransom Center, you can visit one of these complete copies 363 days of the year. Your gift will support our exhibition program to remain open nearly every day, free to all.

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