Dallas boasts the largest concentrated urban arts district in the nation. The Dallas Arts District was established in 1983 to centralize the art community and provide adequate facilities for cultural organizations. Institutions include the Dallas Museum of Art the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center the Dallas Theater Center the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. In addition to the Arts District Dallas is home to the Meadows Museum the Latino Cultural Center the Writer’s Garret Literary Center and the museums at Fair Park among others.
Dallas Arts District
The Dallas Arts District is the largest urban cultural district in the country. This 19-block area covers 68.4 acres near downtown Dallas. The District is home to many world-renowned performing and visual arts organizations including thirteen non-profit venues. In addition multiple organizations perform in the District on an ongoing basis. This includes everything from concerts to outdoor festivals to lectures youth education programs and more.
The Arts District Friends was founded in 1984—later renamed the Arts District Alliance—with the mission to champion the largest Urban Arts District in the country as a destination spot to be enjoyed by all citizens of Dallas as well as visitors. Through a variety of programming and marketing initiatives the Dallas Arts District Alliance raises awareness and appreciation for the Arts District and the institutions that enrich the District and therefore our community.
Completed in 2009 this impressive District house more buildings designed by Pritzker Prize winning architects than any other location in the world. There are currently 31 arts organizations located in or presenting in the Arts District.
Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Located in the heart of downtown the magnet school attracts students from throughout the metropolitan area. Booker T. Washington has an impressive list of alumni including Grammy-winning vocalists Erykah Badu and Norah Jones jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove dancer Jay Franke cellist John Koen and drummer Aaron Comess. The building was erected in 1922 as the first African-American high school in Dallas.
Dee & Charles Wyly Theatre
The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre is one of the four main venues at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Arts District and was dedicated in 2009. The 80300-square-foot building is 12 stories high and holds about 600 people depending upon the stage configuration. It is the new venue for the Dallas Theater Center Dallas Black Dance Theatre and Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico.
Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art
Exhibiting works of art from Japan China India and Southeast Asia the Crow Collection offers visitors a peaceful world of beauty and spirituality in the heart of the city. The pieces date from 3500 B.C. to the early 20th century and include precious jade ornaments from China delicate Japanese scrolls and a rarely seen 12-by-28 foot sandstone façade of an 18th century Indian residence.
Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903 the museum has an encyclopedic collection of more than 23000 works spanning 5000 years of history. The collections focus on the art of the ancient Americas Africa Indonesia South Asia and Europe as well as American painting sculpture and decorative arts. American and international contemporary art is also on display. The museum welcomes more than half a million visitors per year.
Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
In September 1989 the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center opened its doors. The architect I.M. Pei was selected from more than 100 world-renowned architects and his acclaimed design is revered among musical venues. The building’s impressive architectural features and unsurpassed acoustics have made the Meyerson a pre-eminent environment for exceptional events in Dallas.
Nasher Sculpture Center
The Nasher Sculpture Center is a longtime dream of Raymond Nasher and his late wife Patsy who together amassed one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world. The Center features more than 300 pieces and is located adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art in the Arts District. Renzo Piano a world-renowned architect and winner of the Pritzker Prize in 1998 designed the 55000-square-foot building. Landscape architect Peter Walker designed the outdoor garden.
Winspear Opera House
Designed by Foster + Partners under Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster and Senior Design Partner Spencer de Grey the Winspear Opera House is the newest of four such venues at the Arts District’s AT&T Performing Arts Center. The home of the Dallas Opera since 2009 it is engineered specifically for performances of opera and musical theater with stages equipped for ballet performances as well as other forms of dance. A 21st century reinterpretation of the traditional opera house the 2200-seat venue’s principal performance space the Margaret McDermott Performance Hall is designed to be the environmentally conscious state-of-the-art standard against which future opera houses will be measured.
Fair Park Dallas one of Dallas’ hidden treasures is a central location to spend the day relaxing and learning about the rich history of Dallas. While many people associate Fair Park with only concerts and the famous Texas State Fair there is actually much more to this historically and culturally rich locale.
Fair Park is home to many beautiful native and organic gardens museums and performance halls but it also boasts some of the finest art and architecture in the nation. As a matter of fact Dallas’ Fair Park holds the designation of being a National Historic Landmark due to it boasting the largest collection of 1930s Art Deco architecture in the United States and it is the only unaltered pre-1950s World’s Fair site in the nation.
The State Fair of Texas has called Fair Park home since its inception in 1886 when the Dallas State Fair Board of Directors voted to purchase 80 acres of land and established the fairgrounds. Now the largest annual state fair in the United States the State Fair of Texas is the largest tenant of Fair Park.
In 1936 the city of Dallas was chosen to host the State of Texas Centennial Celebration. Architect George Dahl was commissioned to rebuild Fair Park for the event to the astonishing tune of $26 million—an outlandish price tag for the Depression Era. Dahl was tasked with the planning designing and constructing with only 14 months from conception to completion. With the help of 10 Dallas design firms Dahl and his team designed 26 major buildings in nine months. Dahl took great care to create a unique architectural look by combining classic Art Deco designs of the period with a Southwestern flare that interjected elements of Texas history.
The Hall of State building was designed to be the architectural centerpiece of the Exposition. At $1.3 million it was the most expensive structure per square foot ever built in Texas at the time. Unlike past World Fairs the Dahl’s buildings were designed and built to last. They remain a true treasure to the city of Dallas and its residents.
Currently Fair Park draws over seven million people to ticketed events alone and generates millions of dollars for the city of Dallas annually. Superpages.com Centre hosts over 40 concerts with nationally known stars each year. There are nine museums and six performance halls located at Fair Park including the Science Place and The Women’s Museum. There are over 749000 square feet of covered space that can be used for conferences exhibits markets festivals and sporting events.
Fair Park has a wealth of history art and stunning architecture. The following is just a brief peek at what Fair Park has to offer.
African American Museum
The African American Museum is the only institution of its kind in the Southwest dedicated to the preservation and display of African-American artistic cultural and historical materials. It features one of the largest collections of folk art in the nation. The rich history of black art and culture is stored in the four vaulted galleries augmented by a research library.
Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park
The Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park opened in 1936 as part of the Texas Centennial celebration. Housed in its original Art Deco building the Aquarium is home to a varied collection of thousands of aquatic animals including marine and freshwater fish reptiles amphibians and invertebrates.
Dallas Historical Society
The Dallas Historical Society was organized on March 31 1922 by 101 prominent citizens who wished to encourage historical inquiry. In 1938 the Society assumed the management of the magnificent Hall of State at the request of the City of Dallas. The Historical Society is the oldest historical organization in Dallas County that is committed to preserving the area’s entire history.
Dallas Summer Musicals
Dallas summer musicals can trace its path back to 1941 with Opera Under The Stars in Fair Park’s Band Shell. Since then it has earned a long track record of top-notch live performances featuring some of the best talent in the business. Performances are held at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Past musicals have included Burn the Floor Stomp Spamalot along with Guys and Dolls.
Museum of the American Railroad
The Museum of the American Railroad possesses one of the most comprehensive heavyweight passenger car collections in the United States with a complete pre World War II passenger train including a Railway Post Office and baggage car coaches lounge cars Pullman sleeping cars and a dining car. The museum has recently added a collection of postwar lightweight passenger equipment to complement its prewar passenger train. Over thirty pieces of historic railroad equipment including steam diesel and electric locomotives cabooses historic structures signals and assortment of small artifacts make it one of the finest railroad museums in the southwest United States.
Museum of Nature & Science
The Museum of Nature & Science is the result of a 2006 merging unlike any in the nation of three cultural institutions – the Dallas Museum of Natural History (est. 1936) The Science Place (est. 1946) and the Dallas Children’s Museum (est. 1995). The combination of the Dallas Museum of Natural History and the Science Place was completed in June of 2006. The Children’s Museum combination was completed the following October. These combinations have resulted in an exciting family destination which is able to better serve the community and steward its investment in the institution.
Texas Discovery Gardens
Located at historic Fair Park in Dallas Texas Discovery Gardens is a year-round urban oasis filled with natural wonders for visitors of all ages. Ten different themed areas include a butterfly habitat native wildlife pond scent garden shade garden and heirloom garden. At Texas Discovery Gardens visitors discover a wealth of information on ways to restore conserve and preserve natural environments in urban areas.
Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future
Located in Fair Park this is the nation’s only comprehensive women’s history museum. It chronicles the lives of more than 3000 American women using state-of-the-art interactive exhibits to explore their contributions throughout American history and to examine women’s lives across time. Exhibits commemorate the women’s movement and women in the arts sports and sciences.
Ballet Folklorico Ollimpaxquifolkloricofestivalofdallas.com/ollimpaxqui Ollimpaxqui means “joyful movement” in Nahuatl the language of the Aztecs. The Ollimpaxqui Ballet Company was formed in Mexico City and came to the United States in 1985. The Dallas-based company has performed in the National Auditorium and in the Palace of the Fine Arts in Mexico City. The group currently participates in more than 200 performances a year.
Bass Performance Hallwww.basshall.com The Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall which is located in downtown Fort Worth near Sundance Square opened in 1998 and seats 2056 people. Occupying a whole city block it represents one of the most successful downtown revitalization efforts in the country. The European opera house-inspired limestone structure is renowned for its superb acoustics exceptional sightlines and ambience on level with the great halls of the world.
Dallas Black Dance Theatrewww.dbdt.com Founded in 1976 the Dallas Black Dance Theatre is a modern dance company with a mixed repertoire of modern jazz African and spiritual works. Celebrating its 28th season the Dallas Black Dance Theatre is the city’s oldest continuously operating dance company. The company has studied trained and performed with some of America’s most influential dance teachers including Alvin Ailey David Parsons Robert Battle and Chuck Davis.
Dallas Childrens Theaterwww.dct.org Dallas Children’s Theater is a professional theater organization that focuses on producing theater for youth and families. DCT reaches an audience of 270000 youth annually with its 11 main stage productions national touring company and education programs. In 2004 TIME Magazine named Dallas Children’s Theater one of the Top 5 theaters in the country performing for youth. In 2003 DCT moved into the 58000 sq. ft. Rosewood Center for Family Arts with the Baker Theater (seats 400) and Studio Theater (seats 150) five classrooms community gathering room and space for costume scenic shops and storage.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performs in the Meyerson Symphony Center and can traces its origins to a concert given by a group of forty musicians in 1900. The 2008-2009 season marked the inaugural season of the Orchestras new conductor Jaap van Zweden which included two world premieres and works by modern and classic composers.