While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Lois Wood Burkhalter
Jessie Marion Koogler McNay (1883–1950).
Marion Koogler McNay left a legacy of art to the city of San Antonio. Upon her death, her collection of more than 700 works, her spacious home and its surrounding twenty-three acres, and a generous endowment established the city's first museum of modern art—the McNay Art Museum. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

MCNAY, JESSIE MARION KOOGLER (1883–1950). Marion Koogler McNay, art collector, philanthropist, and founder of the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum at San Antonio, was born at De Graff, Ohio, on February 7, 1883, the only child of Dr. Marion A. and Clara V. (Lippincott) Koogler. A year later the family moved to El Dorado, Kansas, where Koogler invested in many acres of grazing land, later the source of the Koogler oil fortune, which Marion inherited at the death of her parents. She studied art at the University of Kansas (1900–1902) and at the Art Institute of Chicago. She joined her parents in their retirement in 1912 in Marion, Ohio. Her marriage to Don Denton McNay, a railway manager and sergeant in the United States Army, on December 9, 1917, ended ten months later with his death from Spanish influenza in Florida. Through four subsequent marriages and divorces she retained the name of her first husband. She was married to Charles Newton Phillips, a Marion banker, from 1921 to 1925; to Donald Taylor Atkinson, a San Antonio ophthalmologist, from 1926 to 1936; to Victor Higgins, a Chicago artist working in New Mexico, from 1937 to 1940; and to Adelbert E. Quest, a Chicago art dealer, in 1940–41. She had no children.

McNay moved to San Antonio in 1926 and after her marriage to Dr. Atkinson began construction of a Spanish colonial mansion designed by Atlee and Robert Ayres on acreage called Sunset Hills, at the intersection of Austin Highway and New Braunfels Avenue. The mansion, completed in 1929, housed her growing collection of American watercolors, French Impressionist paintings, and art objects. She herself designed some of the mansion's tiling and stenciled ceilings. She was a frequent summer visitor to Taos and Santa Fe and acquired numerous works by artists painting in the New Mexico area. Her patronage extended to the art of the Pueblo Indians, and her collection of their crafts and of primitive Spanish colonial art is part of the permanent collection of the museum.

In 1943 a proposed congressional bill provided for exploration of Pueblo lands preliminary to the construction of a dam on the Rio Grande. This project, thought by conservationists to endanger several pueblos and their shrines, was defeated largely due to Marion's efforts. In her later years McNay devoted much of her time to the directorship of the San Antonio Art Institute, the former Witte Museum School of Art, which was housed in an aviary on the grounds of her home. The San Antonio Art Institute declared bankruptcy and closed in 1990.

McNay Art Museum.
The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio opened in 1954. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Although her religious background was Presbyterian, McNay was converted to Catholicism under the spiritual guidance of the Rev. Peter M. Baque. Among her many charities, the foremost was the Missionary Servants of Christ the Master and St. Anthony, a lay society of Catholic women. After Baque's death, Marion McNay commissioned Texas sculptor Karl J. (Charles) Umlauf to do a large aluminum crucifix, which was placed at the head of Father Baque's grave in the Cemetery of the Sisters of St. Anthony in San Antonio. Jessie Marion Koogler McNay died of pneumonia on April 13, 1950, in a San Antonio hospital, and was buried next to Father Baque's grave. Her bequest to the sisters was generous, but the bulk of her estate was left in trust for the conversion of her home into a museum of modern art, the first of its kind in San Antonio.


Lois Wood Burkhalter, Marion Koogler McNay: A Bibliography, 1883–1950 (San Antonio: Marion Koogler McNay Art Institute, 1968).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Lois Wood Burkhalter, "MCNAY, JESSIE MARION KOOGLER," accessed July 15, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc98.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on May 23, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...