McNay Art Museum
Written by: Lisa Y. Taylor
Alluring Spaces, Natural Beauty, Masterpieces
On a circular patio at the McNay Art Museum, a spouting fountain cascades into a sky blue pool. From a nearby hilltop, a Spanish Colonial mansion rises and displays ornate balconies and archways. And passed delightful koi ponds and stone bridges, the museum’s spreading glass and steel Stieren Center lavishes the landscape with contemporary sleekness. Of course, the McNay is renowned for showcasing masterpieces such as a dreamy Monet “Water Lilies” canvas.
This alluring mix of nature, architecture and art attracts brides and grooms looking for a distinctive setting to celebrate their nuptials.
“Being here feels like a little piece of heaven,” says Julie McGarraugh, the McNay’s Senior Manager of Special Events. “Encompassing 23 secluded acres in the middle of the city, the museum offers fountains, patios and a courtyard for outdoor events as well as a versatile auditorium and gallery space for indoor functions.”
Cocktail Hour Perusing
One of the most enticing benefits of hosting a reception at the McNay is that guests are free to peruse museum exhibits during the cocktail hour. In fact, many wedding couples have their photographer snap photos of them posing in front of the famed “Water Lilies.”
“If the event is in the mansion side, guests can see works by Monet, Picasso and Diego Rivera, and if the couple is using the Stieren Center space, guests can visit temporary exhibits, such as the fall 2019 tour of Andy Warhol portraits,” McGarraugh explains.
Mansion and Modern Packages
The most popular wedding option, the Mansion Reception Package, includes use of the mansion’s lobby that boasts a double winding staircase and round iron chandelier, the spacious courtyard that features tranquil fish ponds, the domed-ceiling Frost Octagon room and the Leeper Auditorium which accommodates as many as 250 seated dinner guests with a dance floor.
“After entering the mansion lobby, family and friends can enjoy cocktails in the courtyard or browse the permanent exhibit that’s housed in the mansion,” describes McGarraugh. “Then before dinner and dancing in the Leeper, they go through the Octagon room where the bar, cake table, a slideshow or photo booth can be set up.”
Providing a flexible and inviting space, the Leeper features soaring steel-beamed ceilings, hardwood floors and a movable stage.
“The auditorium is like a blank canvas that can be decorated with chandeliers, dramatic lighting, draping or a lounge area according to the couple’s wishes,” McGarraugh says.
Brides and grooms seeking modern sophistication may select the Contemporary Reception Package. In addition to use of the Octagon room and Leeper for the reception, cocktails can be hosted in the Stieren Center’s expansive lobby and hall that displays floor-to-ceiling windows.
Sizeable receptions for as many as 800 guests can utilize the spaces provided by the Mansion and Contemporary packages in addition to the Stieren Center’s sculpture terrace.
“For a grand, free-flowing affair, food stations can be set up in the Stieren and then the Leeper can host the dance,” McGarraugh says.
The McNay provides a list of approved caterers to fit an array of culinary preferences and budgets. All other vendors are selected by the couple, with the exceptions of multi-media and security.
Other wedding event advantages include complimentary guest parking, a rain plan for outdoor functions and a 20 percent discount for receptions held on Fridays and Sundays.
A popular site for bridal portraits, the vibrant Koehler Fountain has hosted countless ceremonies. The streaming waters create a picturesque backdrop, and up to 250 guests can comfortably witness the vows from seating on the paved patio or green lawn.
Exuding a Mediterranean oasis ambiance, the mansion’s Spanish Colonial courtyard is another scenic ceremony site for as many as 60 seated guests. Vivid blue, red and yellow floral motifs adorn the hand-painted staircase and pond tiles, sublime bronze sculptures dot the stone patio, and palms are illuminated with twinkle lights in the evening.
“Mrs. McNay actually lived in the mansion that she had built in the 1920s, so you definitely feel the love she put into the home, the grounds and the art collection,” McGarraugh says. “We hope that couples are inspired to feel that same love and passion for beauty when they celebrate their wedding here.”
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