For nearly 70 years, The Austin Museum of Nearly New and Thrift Art of Austin has celebrated gently-used, ill-conceived, and therapeutic art, providing a rich gallery and useful storage space for the creative visions of artists who the mainstream outsider art movement has not found itself able to embrace.
Ostensibly located in the historical Dayle House in Austin’s western lake district, TAMANNATAOA is the living legacy of founder Beatrice Barber “Beebee” Dayle. In 1927 Beebee opened a tiny thrift and craft store on Old Pecan Street Road, staffed by volunteers and female patients from the Austin State School. Selling donated items and crafts made by State School Patients, The St. Cristina’s League Craft and Trade Store provided useful financial support and a welcome place in the community for “her ladies.”
The funding for Mrs. Dayle’s philanthropic work came from the fortunes of her husband, Wesley Dayle, made during the 1910 construction boom in downtown Austin. The historical marker of the Dayle Bridge, which once arched majestically over Waller Creek near the current University of Texas Service Building, is on display in the J. J. Pickle University surplus warehouse.
As the State School’s methodology evolved and Beebee retired from Austin’s philanthropic scene, the St. Christina’s League shop faded into the tapestry of Austin’s history, until her husband’s death in 1938 of complications of acute coulrophilia. She gave his estate to the city of Austin, making the Dayle House, a sprawling Postclassical Revival faux-chateau, into the historical gallery, museum, and storage unit that it is today.
Through the decades each caretaker has left touches behind, but none have successfully sold or demolished Beebee Dayle’s legacy. When Board Chair Raymond Greene, also president of the Young Person’s Society Shops and the possibly fanciful Austin Anti-Saloon League, moved to donate the three organizations to each other in what Evening Statesman called “The most ambitious piece of stunt accountry since the Moore’s Crossing Bridge” (Evening Statesman, 6/5/72), the Austin Museum of Nearly New and Thrift Art of Austin found its permanent home, becoming Austin’s finest fictional artspace, at least until the ademptions are resolved.