A Hummel Beginning for Tyler Museum of Art


The legacy of one of East Texas’ most philanthropic families – and the creations of Tyler Independent School District students – come together with the just-opened It’s a Small World: Hummel Figurines from the Mary M. Tracy Collection, on display through Sunday, June 2 in the Tyler Museum of Art’s Education Classroom. This installation is open to the public at no cost.

It’s a Small World, organized by the TMA Education Department in association with TISD’s Hazel Owens Elementary School, is dedicated to the memory of Mary and John Tracy, longtime Tyler residents whose spirit of selfless giving was among the best-kept secrets in the region. The couple made generous contributions throughout the years to countless churches, charities and nonprofits in Smith County – the vast majority of them anonymously.

Yet Mrs. Tracy was outspoken about sharing her passion for Hummel figurines, the immaculately crafted, whimsical characters that have captivated imaginations worldwide since 1935. Her collection began in earnest during a European trip with her children in the early 1960s, when the family toured the Hummel factory in Bavaria and scoured shops across the continent for new finds. After Mrs. Tracy passed away in June 2007, her husband of 68 years continued adding to the vast array of the Hummels she adored. Now totaling more than 700 pieces, the Tracy Collection stands as one of the most complete of its kind in the Southwest.

It’s a Small World features close to 200 different Hummel characters from Mrs. Tracy’s collection, arranged in a series of tableaux set against original backgrounds conceived and hand-painted by students of Owens Elementary art teacher Deanna Waters. “These background paintings are wonderfully imaginative in setting the scenes for the tableaux of Hummels,” said TMA Curator and Head of Education Ken Tomio. “Thanks to Deanna, the students jumped into this project with exactly the spirit of imagination and fun the Hummels are supposed to evoke in the people who enjoy them, and we hope Mrs. Tracy would have been proud of the results.”

Families are invited to join the TMA in honoring the Tracy family’s legacy, and meet some of the Owens students involved in the Hummel project, during a special Memorial Celebration from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26 at the Museum. The day’s festivities will feature performances by the Tyler Youth Orchestra and light refreshments. Admission to the celebration is free, but reservations are preferred. Contact the Museum at (903) 595-1001 to reserve your place. The Hummels also will be in the spotlight for a free Seniors’ Day from 1 to 5 p.m. Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 at the TMA. Reservations are preferred but not required.

It’s a Small World: Hummel Figurines from the Mary M. Tracy Collection will be on display in the Museum lobby and Educational Classroom through June 2. Sponsors for the installation are Mrs. Thomas C. Tracy, James E. Walker in memory of Paula Tracy, Mrs. John L. Tracy Jr., and Rebecca and Gregg Davis.


The TMA is approaching the final week of public viewing for one of its most successful recent exhibitions, Texas Impressionism: Branding with Brushstroke and Color, 1885-1935. Porfirio Salinas, Franklin Reaugh and Julian Onderdonk are just a few of the acclaimed Texas artists spotlighted in this traveling exhibition, organized by the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and including two pieces borrowed from the TMA’s Permanent Collection. The TMA also has added some of the finest paintings from local collectors in a special area of the exhibition called “Tyler Collects.” More than 2,500 visitors have toured Texas Impressionism since it opened in February, including large contingents from Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum and David Dike Fine Art Gallery in Dallas, all of whom “came away very impressed with the exhibition, and especially with the ‘Tyler Collects’ area,” Tomio said.

Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $5 for students; children 12 and under receive free admission. The show closes to the general public on Sunday, May 26, but visitors age 65 and older are invited for a special opportunity to take a final tour of the popular exhibition during the special Seniors’ Day on May 27.

The TMA, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave., adjacent to the Tyler Junior College campus off East Fifth Street. Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday; the Museum is closed Mondays and most major holidays. The TMA is supported by its Members and Tyler Junior College. For more information, call (903) 595-1001 or visit www.tylermuseum.org.