Stark Museum of Art

By: Nelda C. Stark

Type: General Entry

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: April 6, 2019

The collection of the Stark Museum of Art, in Orange, was started in the 1890s by Miriam Lutcher Stark, who amassed a considerable collection of art objects and paintings before her death in 1936. The practice of collecting art continued with her son, H. J. Lutcher Stark, an East Texas timber magnate, and his wife, Nelda Childers Stark. After Stark's death in 1965, the collection became the property of the Nelda C. and H. J. Lutcher Stark Foundation. In the early 1970s Mrs. Stark, founder and chairman of the foundation, commissioned the architectural and engineering firm of Page Southerland Page and the architect Ernesto Liebrecht to build a museum to house the collection. The museum, which had always been a dream of Stark and his mother, was finally completed on July 25, 1976. Two years later, on November 29, 1978, the doors were first opened to the public. The museum grounds cover an entire city block, and the two-story building houses almost 15,000 square feet of exhibition space, including an exhibition foyer, three corridors of built-in exhibition cases, and five galleries. The museum also contains staff work areas, artifact storage, and an arts library. The bulk of the collection consists of American western art and features a wide variety of works chronicling the development of the American West from 1800 to 1960. Much of this collection is on permanent display in the first three galleries. Among the highlights of this collection are the works of the artist-naturalist John J. Audubon and more than 220 drawings by Paul Kane that document his journey across Canada in the 1840s. In the early 1980s the museum acquired Seth Eastman's Squaws Playing Ball on the Prairie, The Concealed Enemy by George Caleb Bingham, and Frederic Remington's Halt, Dismount, as well as several additions to the extensive collection of nineteenth-century American sculpture. The museum houses several smaller collections. The Native American artifacts collection contains a variety of artifacts from the Plains, Southwest, Northwest, and California Indians. A high point of this collection is the Navajo rug display in the foyer. The museum also houses a decorative arts collection, which includes many fine examples of Steuben glassware, including the only complete set of Steuben's United States in Crystal, and the porcelain of Dorothy Doughty and Edward M. Boehm. Another major collection at the Stark is the rare book collection, which consists of a plethora of books from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries. Most of these books are about natural history.

Sarah E. Boehme, "The Stark Museum," Journal of the West 22 (January 1983). Julie Schimmel, Stark Museum of Art-The Western Collection, 1978 (Orange, Texas: Stark Foundation, 1978).


  • Museums, Libraries, and Archives
  • Museums
  • Art Museums
  • Visual Arts
  • Education

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Nelda C. Stark, “Stark Museum of Art,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 26, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995
April 6, 2019