Dallas Fort Worth is full of cultural surprises, and that’s especially true when it comes to its bustling arts scene. It holds bragging rights to being home to one of the largest art museums in the U.S. and the largest arts district in the country. Whether you’re interested in modern art or art from Asia, here’s your guide to exploring one of the most underrated arts destinations in the U.S.
Founded in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art is one of the biggest and most reputable places to see art in the Texan city. Next to its program of rotating exhibitions, the museum offers its visitors a varied and international range of permanent art collections. The African Art collection focuses on artwork from the Sub-Saharan region, and the Contemporary Art collection showcases an impressive selection of paintings and sculptures from contemporary artistic movements such as abstract expressionism and minimalism; the Pacific Islands Art collection consists of sculptures and textiles made in Indonesian islands. A number of other collections, both permanent and temporary, are on display, demonstrating an impressive grasp on international — and American — art.
The Kimbell Art Museum has a permanent collection of 350 pieces of art | Courtesy of Visit Fort Worth
Even casual art fans will appreciate the breadth of the Kimbell. From ancient art to 20th-century pieces, the Kimbell’s display is world-class. It contains Michelangelo’s first painting as well as works from Rembrandt, Picasso, and Monet, making it one of the country’s best small museums. Recognized as a prime example of modern architecture, the building itself has an open-floor plan and is filled with natural light. The Kimbell’s permanent collection is manageable in one visit, while high-profile traveling exhibits are worth returning for. Enjoy lunch at the museum’s well-prepared buffet of sandwiches, salads, and quiches, and sit in the manicured courtyard of one of the city’s best museums.
Since its opening in 1998, the Crow Collection of Asian Art has tried to create a peaceful and welcoming environment for all who visit the free galleries. Dedicated to the cultures of China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia, the museum contains nearly 4,000 pieces of hand-selected art ranging from rare jewels to paintings and ancient weapons. Tai Chi, restorative yoga, and mediation classes are offered weekly.
NorthPark Center is home to a large collection of modern artwork | Courtesy of NorthPark Center
NorthPark Center is a large mall in Dallas known for offering high-end luxury shopping and 235 stores, restaurants, and department stores. It opened in 1965 as a premiere shopping destination in Texas that welcomes 26 million people every year. However, today, NorthPark Center offers more than just a shopping center. It holds a stunning collection of 20th and 21st century art that includes work by Andy Warhol, Joel Shapiro, Frank Stella, Beverly Pepper, and Antony Gormley. It’s also home to the only indoor work of Mark di Suvero, a 48-foot tall sculpture titled Ad Astra (2005).
The Meadows Museum in Dallas is home to an incredible range of Spanish art, one of the largest collections outside of Spain. It includes masterpieces by Velazquez, Miró, Picasso, and, of course, Goya. This also means that visitors can see his paintings in the context of his country’s artistic history and better appreciate the influence he had on other artists. A highlight of the collection includes Portrait of Mariano Goya, the Artist’s Grandson (1812-1814), one of his most successful late portraits, far from the grandeur and decorum of his early portraits of the royalty and aristocracy.
Located in the heart of the sprawling Arts District, this outdoor museum features the personal collection of longtime collectors Raymond and Patsy Nasher. The indoor galleries feature rotating exhibits, while the garden gallery highlights the permanent collection of work from renowned artists such as Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, and Pablo Picasso. Step inside this urban oasis for an up-close view of these masterpieces.
There are nearly 3,000 works of art at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Chartered in 1892, it’s the oldest museum in Texas and one of the oldest in the Southwest. While the focus of the museum has changed over the years, today, it presents only art created after World War II, with a strong collection of works that fall under the trends of pop and minimalism, and German art of the 1970s and 1980s. While it costs a fee to visit the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, it’s free for children under the age of 12, every Sunday, and half price on Wednesdays. There’s also a gift shop and café on-site.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art showcases American art throughout the centuries | Courtesy of Visit Fort Worth
Amon Carter Museum of American Art opened in 1961 and offers visitors the opportunity to experience exhibits and programs that relate entirely to American art. It was originally established to house a collection of works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell collected by Amon G. Carter Sr. Today, the collection has expanded to include work by Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, and Stuart Davis. There’s also sculptures, illustrated rare books, 900 watercolors, and over 45,000 photographs by a variety of artists. Admission to the museum, as well as rotating exhibits, is free.
The African American Museum was originally founded in 1974 at Bishop College, a historically black college that has since closed. It began operating independently in 1979 and was soon moved to Fair Park, where today, it houses one of the largest African American folk art collections in the U.S. There are four galleries with a wide range of exhibits that include African art like masks and textiles, African American fine art that dates to the 1800s, 100 historical photographs, and historical and political archives in a library. The museum also presents events such as theatrical performances, live music, and rotating art exhibits. Admission is free except for special events or exhibits.