Austin’s Big Medium Damaged by Fire

by Glasstire January 23, 2024

Fire broke out at Big Medium, the Austin nonprofit gallery, just after midnight on Monday, January 15, damaging the building and destroying one work of art from the current exhibition, No Kings But Us, a collaborative show featuring work by Robert Hodge and Tim Kerr. In addition to Big Medium’s gallery space, the building houses an open-concept workspace, as well as five artists’ studios, none of which were damaged. The other gallery spaces in the building — The Projecto, Coronado Print Room, and Capitol View Arts Gallery — were also unaffected by the fire.

The fire mostly damaged the back wall of the main gallery. It is currently unclear how the fire began; initial speculation noted that it was perhaps accidentally caused by people trying to stay warm in the recent cold weather. 

One photo features an art exhibition installed in a gallery. Two other photos show the same gallery without any artworks on the wall, but the wall has been damaged by fire.

Left: Big Medium’s gallery before the fire. Middle and right: the gallery after the fire.

Big Medium moved to this building in the fall of 2023, after years of being located in the popular Canopy Art Complex in East Austin. In a statement on their website, the organization says that it will work with conservators to assess the damage to and repair any additional works of art that may have been affected in Mr. Hodge and Mr. Kerr’s show. 

The property owners have cleared the debris and temporarily sealed exterior holes with plywood until repairs can begin. On their website, Big Medium says that they’re “calculating at least two weeks of repairs and maintenance before we can resume the[ir current] exhibition.” Additionally, the organization has begun a campaign to raise $25,000, saying “as we coordinate with property owners, property managers, and insurance to address the situation on their end, we’re in the tough position of having to fundraise to prepare for the many expenses that a situation like this brings while ensuring that our staff, the artists, and the space remain safe and unaffected.”

When the Winter Street Studios building in Houston was damaged by fire in December of 2022, the Disaster Services program of the Houston Arts Alliance activated its Emergency Relief Fund to provide stipends to those affected by the fire. Additionally, the Mayor donated $250,000 to aid in the recovery. While the Austin Creative Alliance has several emergency-related grants intended for creative individuals, none of them apply to organizations. 

Donations to help Big Medium’s recovery can be made here.

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