We all know everything is bigger in Texas, and as it turns out, that goes for the arts as well. For many people, Dallas may be synonymous with big oil, big steaks, and big hair, but with the largest art district in the entire country, it’s time to add a new item to the list: big art scene.
That’s right. Dallas Arts District is the biggest in the United States, offering locals and visitors alike a huge range of world-class visual and performing arts. And that’s not all. The city’s burgeoning art scene has spilled over to the surrounding neighborhoods, making it the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation according to visitdallas.com.
So get to Dallas, put on some comfortable shoes and get ready for a weekend – or more – of cultural adventure! Here are some ideas to get you started.
Join more than 3.2 million people who have visited the Dallas Museum of Art since it made general admission free five years ago. Established in 1903, the DMA houses over 24,000 works from across the world across some 5,000 years of art history. In addition to its huge collection, the art museum also hosts special exhibitions, concerts, performances, literary events and lectures.
The indoors meets the outdoors in this one-of-a-kind museum of modern sculpture featuring works by world-renowned artists. With thematic installations showcasing more than 300 sculptures as well as 20th century wall art (paintings, prints, drawings and photographs), the collection flows from the contemporary 55,000-square-foot indoor space to outdoor exhibits in the expansive gardens. It’s also a great place to grab a bite overlooking the sculpture garden.
The Dallas Contemporary Museum
Showcasing work by both local and international artists, the Dallas Contemporary is a non-profit, non-collecting venue focused on exhibiting “the art of our time” and engaging audiences through its exhibitions and learning programs. The museum houses collections by established and emerging artists as well as offering educational programs and lectures.
The Meadows Museum
The Meadows Museum is home to one of the world’s largest Spanish art collections outside of Spain. The museum houses a permanent collection spanning the 15th to the 20th century and a sculpture garden, in addition to hosting special temporary exhibitions. For those with a love of the Spanish masters, the Meadows is a must see.
This museum is dedicated to the Movement, Abstraction, Dimension, and Invention (MADI) movement founded by Carmelo Arden Quin in Argentina in the 1940’s. The Museum of Geometric and MADI Art was founded in 2003 by Bill and Dorothy Masterson, and today houses more than 700 striking geometric works of art.
The Crow Collection houses more than 500 artifacts acquired by Trammell and Margaret Crow since their collecting began in the 1960’s. Featuring works from Southeastern Asia, Korea, Japan, India and China, this extensive collection not only spans nations, but centuries as well, with pieces dating from 3500 B.C. to modern day. The collection includes jade ornaments, Japanese crystal spheres, ancient scrolls and much more.
One of the largest samurai collections in the world, it is also the only museum outside of Japan dedicated solely to samurai armor. Created in 2012, the museum houses almost 1,000 objects including suits of armor, masks, helmets, weaponry and horse armor. The collection is the result of 25 years of collecting by Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller.
Located two miles northwest of downtown, the Design District is packed with art galleries, antique stores, breweries and fantastic dining options. Some of the prominent art galleries in the neighborhood include LuminArtè, Gallery Circuit 12 and the PDNB Gallery to name just a few.
Filled with art galleries, boutiques and a huge range of bars, cafes and restaurants, this historical district in the heart of North Oak Cliff is a quick drive from downtown. There is plenty to see, from the colorful wall murals found throughout the district to funky galleries or the Artisan’s Collective, a huge collection of fine art and jewelry by over 150 local artists.
Head down to this former warehouse district for an eclectic mix of history, art and music. With a rich history as a hub for jazz, blues and the arts since the 1920’s, Deep Ellum is cool personified on every street, from the 42 Murals project featured on the historic neighborhood walls to the soaring Traveling Man sculptures. By day or night, Deep Ellum holds much to entertain and delight.
THEATER & PERFORMING ARTS
For the ultimate in the performing arts, look no further than this exciting 10-acre performing arts hub within the Dallas Arts District. The center houses the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the vertical, 12-story Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, Annette Strauss Square, and Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Park. The venues feature performances by Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, The Dallas Opera, The Texas Ballet Theater, The Dallas Black Dance Theatre and The Dallas Theater Center. Meanwhile the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center is home The Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Founded by comedians Jan Norton and Linda Stogner, Backdoor Comedy is the city’s longest running stand-up comedy venue. Although the location has changed a handful of times, the weekly showcase features a range of local comedians and national tours.
With live comedy shows five nights a week, the Dallas Comedy House is not only a great spot for a good laugh, but the place in Dallas to learn some performance skills. The venue houses a full training center with classes in stand-up, sketches, improve and storytelling.
The historic Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas first opened as a vaudeville theatre in 1921. The landmark was reopened in 1983 after major restoration and today operates as a performance art venue, showcasing everything from comedy shows to concerts, dance and musical productions.