The Stark Center Lobby is an open hall welcoming visitors and orienting them to the facility and its collections. An array of fine art, artifacts, and smaller exhibitions adorn the space, serving as the foreword to the larger galleries and exhibits. Visitors can begin their self-guided experience by discovering information on H. J. Lutcher Stark at the lobby entrance or by browsing the Wall of Icons at the end of the hall.
A replica of the Farnese Hercules stands guard to the right of the elevator entrance. He is 10’6” tall and weighs approximately 2,000 pounds. The mighty statue is a plaster cast of the original Farnese Hercules, which was made in the second century A.D. for the Baths of Caracalla outside Rome. The sculptor is unknown; however, the statue is modeled after an earlier Greek statue by Glycon known as, “The Weary Hercules.” Hercules was shipped to Texas by boat in four separate pieces and installed on a rotating dais so that lobby viewers can get a detailed 360-degree view of the piece. A floor-to-ceiling window provides a similar glimpse to keen-eyed pedestrians gazing up from the paved sidewalks of DeLoss Dodds Way.
“Father of the Longhorn Logo” is an exhibit case chronicling Lutcher Stark’s purchase of blankets to be used by the members of the University of Texas football team during the colder months of the season. The blanket is emblazoned with large letters with the words, “Texas Longhorns” as well as the detailed head of a longhorn bull. These gifted blankets marked the first time any Texas team officially wore the word “Longhorns” while representing The University of Texas at Austin.
In a nook just past the reception desk, “10 Years Strong,” is a photo exhibit celebrating the history of The Stark Center, from the origins of our collections to the construction of the North End Zone and onward to our current and future missions. “He Liked Big Things,” in the same space, commemorates the life of Terry Todd, our founder.
Director Jan Todd’s vibrant collection of beer steins is displayed in two different locations, above the elevators and in a glass case midway through the lobby. Almost all of the steins are from Germany or Austria. Turnen, a physical fitness movement in nineteenth century Germany, inspired the creation and collectability of sporting beer steins. The collection’s single unifying detail is that each stein includes an illustration of a strength activity. Because many taverns and beer halls in Germany permitted weightlifting on their premises, the steins undoubtedly also had a functional value.
Lastly, though not to be taken lightly, four of our most famous barbells rest at floor level for the admiration of our visitors. The Warren Lincoln Travis dumbbell, made for the Coney Island strongman, weighs 1560 pounds and sits below Lorenzo Ghiglieri’s painting for Joe Weider. Sorin’s Monster, a 500 pound circus-type barbell, was designed and built by Richard Sorin of Sorinex Equipment Company to be used in the first Mighty Mitts Contest at the 2010 Arnold Strongman Classic. Sig Klein’s globe-ended stage barbell and a 600-pound granite barbell that once belonged to Elmer Bitgood are also on display.