For more than half a century, students at the Law School have enjoyed the Hyder Collection—thousands of legal-related art pieces on semi-permanent loan and displayed throughout the school that, in addition to their aesthetic value, have served to provide a social and historical context for the study of the law. Now, thanks to the efforts of many, a large part of that collection has found a permanent home at the school.
The Hyder family and the Hyder Foundation have given more than a thousand pieces from the collection to the Law School Foundation, which will put them on permanent display at the school.
“Over the years, the Hyder family loaned as many as four thousand pieces of art and furnishings to the Law School,” said Barbara Bintliff, director of the Tarlton Law Library/Jamail Center for Legal Research and the Joseph C. Hutcheson Professor in Law. “Many of the pieces were selected specifically for display here by Martha and Elton Hyder Jr. The Hyder Collection has been an integral part of the Law School since 1961, and part of the fabric that makes up the unique educational experience we offer students across the university. Now, with this gift, some one thousand beautiful pieces of art and furnishings are permanently displayed throughout the Law School facility.”
Due to recent remodeling projects, it became clear that the Law School could no longer house the entire Hyder Collection. At that point, the Hyder family expressed a willingness to donate a portion of the collection to the school permanently. The leadership at the Law School Foundation was instrumental in crafting an agreement.
“I’ve been deeply involved with all branches of the Hyder family and the Hyder Foundation for the last two years to reach a permanent resolution regarding the Hyder Collection,” said Law School Foundation President John H. Massey, ’66. “We received a wonderful gift of generosity from the Hyder Foundation, but we also raised a significant amount of money from interested trustees to facilitate this final agreement. It’s a great result after two years of hard work by many people on behalf of the Law School.”
The final loan and custody agreement has now been executed by the School of Law, the Law School Foundation, and the University of Texas at Austin.
“Of the more than four thousand items in the original collection, the Law School Foundation now owns permanently more than a thousand of the finest pieces, which will permanently reside at the School of Law,” Massey said. “It is a magnificent collection accumulated over more than fifty years by Martha and Elton Hyder Jr. through a network of some of the best art dealers in the world. We are very, very pleased with the collection as it now exists and resides in perpetuity at the School of Law. It is unquestionably one of the finest collections of legal art at any law school in the nation.”
The collection’s origins date to 1961, when Elton Hyder Jr., ’43, offered to loan items from his art collection to enhance the decor at the Law School. Soon Hyder and his wife, Martha, were deeply involved in building the collection, which grew into one of the signature features of the Law School and its library.
“The Hyder Collection is many things to us,” said Law School Dean Ward Farnsworth. “It is a monument to the immense loyalty and generosity of a great family toward this school. It is a tribute to that same family’s worldliness and good taste. And above all it is a priceless gift to our students and to all others in the law school community. No other school in the country has anything like this collection; it is a source of delight and inspiration to everyone who spends time around it.”
Bintliff said the Hyder Collection helps put the study of the law into a larger framework, providing perspective and meaning that anchor students in the long and honorable history of the profession.
“The pieces so generously donated by the Hyder family—Martha Rowan Hyder, Brent Hyder, and Whitney Hyder More—and now on display throughout the Law School, illustrate many key figures and events in the development of the rule of law and legal history,” Bintliff said. “They are an invaluable legal resource that complements the study of the law by bringing to life many of the people and events that have shaped the law that students are learning about in the classroom.”