The David B. Warren Symposium

One of the greatest cultural treasures in the state of Texas, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is renowned for its superb collection of American and Texas decorative arts and paintings. Established by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to honor Bayou Bend's founding director emeritus, the David B. Warren Symposium has been presented biennially since 2007. Each symposium addresses different aspects of the theme “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience.”


History of the David B. Warren Symposium

The inaugural David B. Warren Symposium, “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience,” was presented by Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on February 9–10, 2007. David B. Warren delivered the keynote address, “A Gift of Love: Miss Ima Hogg’s Quest to Bring Americana to Texas.” The second symposium, “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience, Part 2” was presented October 30–31, 2009. The first two symposia placed the pre-1900 material culture of Texas, the lower South, and the Southwest within a national and international context, establishing a tradition that future symposia would follow.

The third biennial David B. Warren Symposium, “The Civil War and the Material Culture of Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest,” was held October 28–30, 2011, and commemorated the sesquicentennial of the start of the American Civil War. The fourth symposium was held October 25–27, 2013. The theme, “Itinerant and Immigrant Artists and Artisans in 19th-Century Texas,” acknowledged the contributions of foreign-born craftsmen, photographers, and artists to the material culture of the Lone Star State. In 2015, the theme Creators and Consumers highlighted the role of women in Texas, the lower South, and the Southwest during the 19th Century.


Call for Papers

The 2017 David B. Warren Symposium on American Material Culture and the Texas Experience

Traditions in Transition: Change and Material Culture in 19th-Century Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest
February 24–25, 2017

Bayou Bend is accepting proposals for papers on change and transition in material culture and visual art in pre-1900 Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest. The 2017 David B. Warren Symposium explores how cultural, technological, and societal changes of the 19th century affected regional material culture and visual art in Texas and nearby states. Subjects of interest include technologies of production and distribution; transportation and commercial networks and agents; effects of cultural change; and the loss, retention, or change of regional traditions in the face of broad societal shifts. Proposals focusing on Texas, and applicants presenting previously unpublished research, receive particular consideration. Papers are published in the proceedings of the symposium in 2018.

Applicants may submit a 300-word abstract proposal for a paper to be presented as an illustrated oral lecture either 25 or 50 minutes in length. Indicate the presentation length in the proposal, and submit a curriculum vitae. Generally, 25-minute lectures are more appropriate for emerging scholars, and 50-minute lectures are applicable to senior scholars. Paper proposals are due to Bayou Bend by June 1, 2016; acceptances are announced in July 2016.

The overall theme of the symposium series is “American Material Culture and the Texas Experience,” with the goal of providing an ongoing forum that examines pre-1900 Texas (as well as the lower South and Southwest) through the lens of American material culture.

Contact warrensymposium@mfah.org for more information and to submit abstracts. Those whose papers are accepted receive transportation expenses, an honorarium for speaking, and a fee for preparing their manuscript for publication.


The 2015 David B. Warren Symposium at Bayou Bend receives generous funding from:

The David B. Warren Symposium Endowment
William J. Hill
Nancy Glanville Jewell
Marilyn Lummis
The Summerlee Foundation
Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities
Texas Historical Foundation