The Reading Room of the Stark Center library is filled with large, comfortable chairs as only a prodigious academic and voracious reader, such as the center’s founder, Terry Todd, could personally pick out for himself. Two long, antique walnut tables provide ample space for students and researchers to work. The remainder of the room is decorated with a treasure trove of art and artifacts from the Stark Center’s collections.
Along the windowed north-facing wall are three statues from the Battle Cast Collection, on loan from the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas. First in the lineup is The Idolino, a physique study of a young male athlete. At the center, Dionysus reclines on his panther pelt, taken from the East Pediment of the Parthenon. Though missing his hands and feet, Dionysus is the most intact figure on the East Pediment; however, he is also commonly identified as Hercules on a lion skin. The Discobolus, a discus thrower, stands at the west end of the windows. The huntress, Artemis, posing with a stag, was added later and placed on the darker accent wall at the far end of the room. The statues date from the late 1890s and the first two decades of the 20th century and were purchased by Dr. William Battle of UT’s Classics Department. Other statues from his collection are featured in the Teresa Lozano Long Art Gallery.
The Zander Horse and Robinson Bicycle Trainer, two pieces of historic exercise equipment, flank the entryway doors. In a set of windowed cabinets is a display of Longhorn ephemera curated from the Nick Voinis Collection and the Mack Brown Collection. The next set of cabinets houses a plethora of objects that have been ripped, torn, or bent in a show of hand and grip strength by various strongmen such as Dennis Rogers, Scott St. Vincent, and Stanless Steel Plesken. In between these cabinets is a bronze statue of the legendary head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry. This is a replica of the life-sized statue at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Many of the bronze sculptures gifted by Joe and Betty Weider from their personal art collection adorn bookcases and tabletops. Some of the notable figures are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Louis Cyr, and Arthur Saxon. Also gifted by the Weiders and displayed here is a large golden statue of Eugen Sandow with a barbell. Joe famously used a smaller bronze version of this statue as the trophy for his Mr. Olympia bodybuilding contest. At the end of the room, several strongmen and strongwomen posters from the Todd Art Collection add vibrant color to the walls.