As an Assistant Manager and Buyer for the Academy Shop, my job entails traveling in search of cool, new things, and in April I attended the Museum Store Association conference in Austin, TX. Many shop issues were discussed at the conference, but the hot topic was e-marketing. I learned how Twitter and Facebook are increasingly being used as advertising tools for and how successful they can be.

I also picked up some nice items at the trade show. Now you’ll find in the Academy Shop Maruca hangbags, handmade with groovy textiles in Colorado. Other items are shibori scarves by Japanese fiber artist Kinuko Takago (pictured above) and some jewelry. And for fans of Shamilla Jiwa’s jewelry—I bought some new necklaces and earrings.

Austin was a fantastic city to visit. There was never a dull moment since it is the live music capital of the US.  I took a Segway tour and got to see the bridge at Congress Street where bats roost. Between 7:30 and 8:30 pm they swarm out from under the bridge. Unfortunately it was raining the evening I was there so I missed the show, although I did get to see their wings as they swirled under the bridge.

The Austin Museum of Art has two sites. The flagship on 35th Street, and a satellite on Congress Street, close to the Capital, which is where I went and got to see American Letterpress: The Art of the Hatch Show Print from the Smithsonian. I also made it to the Blanton Art Museum, at the University of Texas. One of the largest university art museums in the country, the Blanton’s collection ranges from Graeco-Roman artifacts and statues to Impressionists to contemporary art. The flatbread pizzas at the cafe were tasty as well.

Of course I ate Tex-Mex food—a burrito and guacamole at Gueros Taco Bar in the cool little neighborhood SoCo—it’s South of Congress. It was retro cool in a rustic building featuring worn floorboards and doors. Cheap too! If you want fine dining, go to Eddie V’s. I had the filet mignon and mashed potatoes and my friend ordered a Thai calamari salad which was delicious.

No trip to Austin is complete without a visit to Salt Lick Bar-B-Que in Driftwood, 20 minutes away where I ate baby back ribs and a side of potato salad. The meat just fell off the bone. My friend had a platter with brisket, ribs and sausage. She was generous enough to let me taste some of her meal and it was delicious, especially the sausage!  Their homemade pecan pie ala mode was to die for too.

I will visit Austin again real soon. Next time I’ll return home with cowboy boots and a hat.