It’s not all steers and sports—Dallas can more than hold its own as a cultural capital. One would be hard-pressed to name a major artist who hasn’t been represented in the many Dallas museums devoted to fine art, photography, and sculpture. History buffs can find countless opportunities for intellectual stimulation in Big D, too. The city is home to the nation’s second-largest presidential library, as well as museums that examine some of history’s darkest and most significant moments. And no trip is complete without a visit to the Cultural District in Fort Worth, located about an hour away by car or Trinity Railway Express. From modern art to relics of the American Old West, the area is considered an essential stop for anyone seeking cultural enrichment—or simply some visual stimulation.
Dallas Museums Every Traveler Should Visit
Learn, explore, and get your culture fix at these Dallas museums and Fort Worth Cultural District highlights.
Don't Miss: Top Tours in Dallas
African American Museum
Fair Park is home to one of the country’s most superior collections of African-American folk art. Decorative objects, African masks, and fine art from prominent black painters, including Sam Gilliam, Benny Andrews, and Edward Mitchell Bannister are also on display. Ongoing lectures and an extensive historical and political archive allow for further research and insight into local African-American heritage.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Based in Fort Worth, this engrossing collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photography is named for the late founder and publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper. Standouts include Old West works from Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell and paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and other celebrated 19th- and 20th-century artists. Admission is free.
The Crow Collection of Asian Art
The late Dallas property developer Trammell Crow and his wife Margaret turned their passion for Asian art into a free, open-to-the-public treasure trove of ceramics, screen paintings, tapestries, Buddha sculptures, jade, samurai armor, and other delights from Korea, Japan, India, China, and Southeast Asia. The museum gift shop is one of the city’s best, while the beautiful sculpture garden rivals the Tai Chi and meditation classes on offer in terms of serenity.
Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance
Local survivors of the Holocaust frequently give tours and offer their personal testimonies at this sobering Dallas museum, located in the West End. The events of April 19, 1943, are of special significance, with a permanent exhibit guiding visitors through the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the contentious Bermuda Conference between the United States and United Kingdom, and an attack on a Belgian deportation train.
Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art’s collection boasts more than 24,000 examples of antiquities, masterpieces from the likes of Monet and Picasso, and innovative contemporary work, including buzzworthy exhibitions from Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman. Film screenings, bimonthly late-night events, and an Arts & Letters Live series featuring acclaimed authors keep the vibe stimulating, not stuffy. The Dallas Museum of Art is a true highlight of the Dallas Arts District.
George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
One of three presidential libraries located in Texas—LBJ’s is in Austin, while College Station lays claim to Bush Sr.’s archives—this local landmark includes an exhibit devoted to the September 11 attacks, a replica Oval Office, 43,000 gifts and artifacts, a multimedia theater, and a “Situation Room Experience” role-playing simulation for schools and executive groups. The property also features a scenic 15-acre park with nature trails.
Kimbell Art Museum
Regarded as a jewel in the crown of Fort Worth’s Cultural District, the Kimbell’s two beautifully designed buildings house a small but carefully curated collection of paintings and sculptures from artists including Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Mondrian. Antiquities from around the globe plus architecture tours also draw a steady stream of visitors.
Nasher Sculpture Center
A highlight of the downtown Dallas Arts District, the Center boasts a gorgeous, light-infused 55,000-square-foot gallery designed by Renzo Piano as well as a tranquil garden featuring some of the collection’s more colossal pieces. The collection spans the classic and contemporary, the abstract and figurative, and the pure and provocative, with Auguste Rodin, Anish Kapoor, Jasper Johns, Pablo Picasso, Kathryn Andrews, Antony Gormley, Henri Matisse, and Alberto Giacometti among those represented.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Named for former presidential hopeful and local business magnate Ross Perot, this family-friendly attraction is famed for its interactive exhibits, hands-on labs, and state-of-the-art cube-shaped building designed with maximum sustainability in mind. Towering dinosaur skeletons, 3-D film screenings, an earthquake simulation, and a children’s play center are bound to win over visitors of all ages. Young scientists can also take part in discovery camps and sleepovers focusing on topics like STEM, robots, and video games.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, left Dallas with a sad place in history. Lee Harvey Oswald fired his fatal shot from the Texas School Book Depository, which has since been converted into this Dallas museum devoted to Kennedy’s legacy and the events of that tragic day, as told through oral histories and the famous Zapruder film footage. The museum overlooks Dealey Plaza, which was named a National Historic Landmark 30 years after the president’s death. Just one block east of the plaza is the John F. Kennedy Memorial designed by architect Philip Johnson with Jacqueline Kennedy’s blessing.
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Don't Miss: Top Tours in Dallas
– Original reporting by Erin Donnelly