On a single day in the middle of World War II, actions in three isolated incidents represent an ethical lesson taught to this day at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. On that day—April 19, 1943—three Belgian men attacked a train destined for Auschwitz, freeing its passengers; the occupants of the Warsaw Ghetto united in revolt; and at the Bermuda Conference, officials from the British and American governments declined to take action against ongoing atrocities in Europe. The Dallas Holocaust Museum’s main exhibit locates a crucial distinction in presenting these three events: the difference between "bystanders" and what the museum calls "Upstanders." The exhibit was created in the hopes that every visitor would become an "Upstander," moved not only to remember a horrific past but also to take action when faced with modern threats to human rights.
A self-guided audio tour relates the heroism of those who stood up on that date in 1943 as museum guests explore artifacts, photographs, and a full-size boxcar. Special exhibits that often focus on photography supplement the permanent installation, and testimonies from volunteer survivors and liberators provide a firsthand perspective on the historical tragedy and its lessons. Along with exposing more than 30,000 students and 22,000 walk-in visitors to its messages annually, the museum advocates engagement with the world through educational programs designed for everyone from educators to law-enforcement officials.
There was a time when looking down the barrel of Clyde Barrow's gun wouldn't have seemed too appealing. But now people visit the second floor galleries of the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture just to get a glimpse of the infamous weapon, which shares space with more than 1,000 other artifacts, including the first traffic light in Dallas County and handcuffs worn by Lee Harvey Oswald. Taken together, these artifacts trace Dallas County's past from prehistory to the present day, a timeline visitors also explore via the museum's 41 touchscreen computers, four mini theatres screening specially commissioned films, and hands-on activities on topics such as architecture and pioneer life. More hands-on activities await in the education center, where youngsters learn about their local heritage thanks to exhibits on Dallas County children.
Housed in the Old Red Courthouse, a restored Romanesque building from 1892, the museum is practically a large-scale exhibit unto itself. Its many architectural flourishes include a four-story grand staircase, a restored clock tower, and two original stained-glass windows from the courthouse's original collection of more than 100. Tours of all four floors grant visitors access to areas not otherwise open to the general public, including the courtroom and the judge's tightly guarded gavel shed. The historic building makes a fitting setting for the special exhibits that grace the first floor gallery several times a year.
While strolling the halls of Madrid's famous Prado Museum in the 1950s, Texas oilman and philanthropist Algur H. Meadows fell in love with the rich tradition of Spanish art. Gradually building a collection of Iberian masterworks from throughout the centuries, Meadows helped found his eponymous museum to house and display the art. Now among the largest collections of Spanish art outside of Spain, the Meadows Museum surrounds visitors with masterpieces from the 10th century through the 21st. The collection's highlights include Goya's darkly evocative Yard with Madmen, Picasso's patchwork Still Life in a Landscape, and Míró's colorfully surreal Queen Louise of Prussia.
Outside the museum's elegant colonnade, an encircling garden recalls Renaissance palaces with manicured bushes, stately gravel paths, and feral court jesters. Beautiful sculptures by modern greats fleck the garden, with such pieces as the 13-foot, wireframe head Sho, by modern Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa. Below the plaza, Santiago Calatrava's monumental Wave dominates the approach to the museum, with gently undulating iron beams, suspended over a serene reflecting pool that will itself never know the joy of forming a wave.
Though many anthropological museums focus on peoples who are long gone, the International Museum of Cultures displays more than 10 storied exhibits on contemporary indigenous populations from around the world, including Papua New Guinea, Mexico, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here, visitors glean insight into the respective cultures and the challenges they face. As guests peruse the displays, they can explore Lakota Sioux artifacts such as dream catchers and arrowheads, learn about the hunter-gatherer Agta from the Philippines, and listen to Drumbeats of the World, an interactive exhibit that pulsates with percussive heartbeats from Ecuador, Pakistan, and Korea.
Highly recommended by Frommer’s, The Crow Collection of Asian Art spans thousands of years with a gallery that boasts Chinese jades, Buddhist sculptures, and Japanese screen paintings. The upcoming "Soaring Voices" exhibit features a contemporary collection of ceramics from the clay-covered hands of women artists, and a current exhibit entitled Mighty Meiji Metals: Sculpture from 19th Century Japan depicts themes from Japanese history through ornate metallic artifacts. Both the Magnolia and Pearl Circle memberships include announcements of exhibitions, invitations to members' previews, free or discounted admission to special events, and a 10% discount in the Lotus Shop. The Pearl Circle membership additionally gets you access to interest groups like the North American Reciprocal Museum Program, which provides discounts on admission, gift shops, parking passes for dragons under 23 feet tall, and concert and lecture tickets in over 300 museums in North America.
In association with the Smithsonian Institution, The Women's Museum: An Institute for The Future stands as the original U.S. enclave solely dedicated to women's history. A dual membership grants two people unlimited, year round access while a family membership ensures entry for an entire brood. Meander through exhibits that spin the story of the nation's fiercest females who spearheaded advancement in the workplace, on the home front, and at gas stations, where they demanded their husbands stop and ask for directions. Pop in for laughs with 13 Funny Women of comedy, a popular exhibit that permanently prizes the punch line prowess of Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, and Wanda Sykes, to name a few, through an on-site video review. Others may devote artistic discoveries to special exhibits, such as the forthcoming works of Loïs Mailou Jones, opening on May 22. Here, X chromosome-savvy history buffs explore vibrant paintings that address tenuous times of gender and racial discrimination during the waning days of the Harlem Renaissance.