While most air-and-space museums house aircraft retired after extensive service, the centerpiece of the collection at the Frontiers of Flight Museum has a flight record that’s hard to match: 163 consecutive orbits around Earth. Between October 11 and 22, 1968, the Apollo 7 command module rocketed around the globe at 17,280 miles per hour, chalking up a healthy number of orbits before splashing into the Atlantic and, eventually, coming to its current residence on the museum floor. Displayed with its hatch open for visitors to peep inside at its instrument-covered panels, the module sits alongside thousands of artifacts from the various golden ages of aeronautic exploration, including salvage from the infamous Hindenburg airship and more than 30 vintage aircraft. The family-friendly museum welcomes younger visitors with the Children’s Discovery Area and a "living history" series featuring aviation icons such as Amelia Earhart and Orville Wright.
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.
At The Gentle Zoo, youngsters feed pigs, pat ducklings, and interact with the other fuzzy residents. Elsewhere on the zoo’s 10 acres, guests can leap about on the bounce house, blast corn from the corn cannon, navigate the maze, or enjoy a leisurely ride on the tractor train. Such attractions enthrall kids at onsite birthday parties, while the mobile petting zoo’s 12–15 staff-supervised animals offer nuzzles and create memories in children's minds. The creatures also hit the road for the animal-encounters program, which combines hands-on animal contact with educational 45-minute presentations. The Gentle Zoo donates its proceeds from the program to its Creature Connection, Inc. nonprofit, which rehabilitates rescue animals before they participate in outreach programs for foster children and at-risk youth.
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.
Unlike many of its brethren, the Arlington Museum of Art does not maintain a permanent collection. Instead, it celebrates the ever-changing nature of art by featuring local artists in traveling exhibitions and curated shows. Also, since opening in 1952, the museum has been a headquarters for promoting artistic expression throughout the community. Gallery talks and artist lectures give visitors the chance to interactively learn, and summer art camps get kids motivated to create masterpieces.
Though you'd never guess it based on its white, soot-free façade, an unassuming bungalow in East Forth Worth has seen fire from every angle. The structure began its life in 1928 as a fire station to protect the area's growing population from faulty toaster ovens, and today it serves as a gallery and workspace for flame-taming potters.
Firehouse Pottery's community-driven studio enables local artists to create new work in classes for all age groups classes and then display their proudest pieces in exhibitions or among a rotating selection of paintings, drawings, and pottery on display.
Resident artist Keith Thomson creates hand-made pottery and other clay artwork under tudor half timbered gables, welcoming audiences and protégés as they enter under a gabled portico held up by thick stucco columns. The intimate space also hosts events, which range from gallery exhibitions and BYOB gatherings to book signings at which only quill pens are allowed.