The African American Museum debuted in 1974 as part of the Special Collections at the historically black Bishop College. An independent operation since 1979, the museum steadfastly preserves the artistic, cultural, and historical legacy of the African American community, particularly that of East Texas. The 38,000-square-foot ivory-stone building holds one of the United States' largest collections of African American folk art, complete with pieces from luminaries like Mose Tolliver and Sister Gertrude Morgan. Elsewhere in the museum?s quartet of permanent galleries, African masks, gold weights, and textiles share space with American fine art from the 1800s to the present, video kiosks, and vintage photographs depicting the eras of slavery, emancipation, and reconstruction.
In addition to ongoing exhibitions, the African American Museum hosts temporary exhibits focusing on everything from lesbian families in the Deep South to winners of its National Black Art Competition. The museum?s events, meanwhile, include monthly concerts, annual jazz festivals, a kids' summer camp, and an invitational for black rodeo cowboys.
Ad-Libs' cast of musicians, standup comedians, and professional writers has poured out its spontaneous ideas and off-kilter humor through a quarter-century of frenetic evenings. The troupe performs in a cabaret-style theater, mixing video with scripted and improvisational comedy while inspiring audience members to participate. Despite their diverse backgrounds, the laugh-masters' shared knack for spontaneity should not surprise since most have studied in Ad-Libs' school of off-the-cuff humor, which imparts to students what it takes to get a full ride to clown college.
At Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park, visitors step back in time more than 100 years, immersed in the buildings and lifestyles of those who populated the land from 1840 to 1910. These historic structures have been slowly relocated over the last century to represent north-central Texas's storied past in one location: Dallas Heritage Village, the town’s first city park. Spanning 20 acres, the village is populated by 38 historic structures including a railroad complex, farmstead, church, and pioneer and Victorian homes, where actors donning period clothing await to educate guests on their customs while making them wonder if they accidentally traveled back in time. The site hosts regular student history hunts and seasonal learning programs, such as Plow, Plant, and Shear and Civil War on the Homefront.
The crown jewel of the Dallas Arts District, the AT&T Performing Arts Center – or AT&T PAC, as it’s commonly referred to – encompasses four different venues, meaning there’s a little something for everyone. The grand Winspear Opera House, a bright red fixture in the city’s skyline, is home to the Dallas Opera and the Texas Ballet Theater, while the Wyly Theatre hosts the Dallas Theatre Center, Dallas Black Dance Theater and Ballet Folklorico. Outside, Strauss Square provides space for outdoor performances and festivals, and the sprawling Sammons Park is ten acres of green space surrounding the venues. The PAC is buzzing year-round, drawing patrons of the arts from all over the Metroplex to catch an impressive range of performances from The Book of Mormon to The Barber of Seville, and everything in-between.
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.
One of the crown jewels of the city’s Arts District, the Nasher Sculpture Center is a must-see for contemporary art buffs – or anyone just looking for a beautiful, thought-provoking setting to spend an afternoon in. The Renzo Piano-designed building is a work of art in itself, with an arched glass roof perfectly positioned to flood the galleries with natural light. An ever-expanding and rotating collection include works of masters like Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse and more. Larger-scale pieces are on display in the stunning sculpture garden. Complete with serene water features and plenty of moody weeping willows, it often plays host to outdoor film screenings, twilight strolls and live bands.