Arts District Walk, Dallas

Arts District Walk (Self Guided), Dallas

The Dallas Arts District spans twenty square blocks filled with art museums, performance halls, public parks, educational facilities, homes and businesses, as well as historic churches. Five of the local buildings were designed by architects who won the highest honor in their field — the Pritzker Prize. Aesthetically pleasing, the Arts District of Dallas is a street photographer's paradise. Everything you love to see, listen to, or experience is likely to be found here, and best of all, most activities are free!

The Dallas Museum of Art is a crown jewel of the district, housing an extensive collection of art spanning from ancient civilizations to contemporary works. Its exhibits and special events consistently draw art enthusiasts from near and far.

Adjacent to the museum, you'll find the Nasher Sculpture Center, a haven for sculpture aficionados. This outdoor gallery boasts a striking collection of contemporary sculptures set amidst lush greenery, making it a serene and visually captivating experience.

Further enriching the district's cultural tapestry is the Crow Museum of Asian Art. It provides a window into the diverse cultures of Asia through its remarkable collection of traditional and contemporary art.

The Meyerson Symphony Center stands as a testament to the district's commitment to the performing arts. Hosting the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, it's a revered venue for classical music enthusiasts.

The Wyly Theatre, part of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, is a contemporary architectural gem that stages a variety of theatrical productions, while the Winspear Opera House within the same complex captivates audiences with world-class opera and ballet performances.

To truly immerse yourself in the Arts District's cultural offerings, consider attending a performance or visiting one of the above institutions. Both, seasoned art connoisseurs and those simply looking to broaden their cultural horizons will find this dynamic and enriching cultural enclave equally impressive. Engage yourself on this self-guided tour and experience the magic of the nation's largest contiguous urban arts district for yourself!
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Arts District Walk Map

Guide Name: Arts District Walk
Guide Location: USA » Dallas (See other walking tours in Dallas)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.5 Km or 0.3 Miles
Author: sylvia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Dallas Museum of Art
  • Nasher Sculpture Center
  • Crow Museum of Asian Art
  • Meyerson Symphony Center
  • Wyly Theatre
  • AT&T Performing Arts Center
  • Winspear Opera House
Dallas Museum of Art

1) Dallas Museum of Art (must see)

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) provides the heart for downtown's vibrant Arts District, and its large new "home" since 1984 is a work of art as well. Designed by famed architect Edward Larabee Barnes and heralded as a masterpiece, the building has 159,000 square-feet (14,800 square-meters) of exhibition spaces, ranking among the largest art museums in the United States.

The sheer size of the facility allows for a variety of comprehensive collections: its European collection includes ancient Mediterranean gold, Renaissance, and Baroque paintings alongside a strong collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Pissaro, van Gogh, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec; the African collection shows works from numerous sub-Saharan tribes and the Egyptian section displays important sculptural pieces. One of the strongest collections – the "Art of the Americas" – includes pieces from many of the world's vanished civilizations, among which Olmec and Maya stone sculpture, Chavin and Nasca ceramics, and Paracas and Chimu textiles.

Students of art should stop by the breathtaking Mayer Library, which, in addition to the thousands of volumes on hand, also provides a wide selection of rare periodicals (including catalogs from Christie's and Sotheby's).

Thursdays are special days with live music, talks and extended hours; also, one Friday a month, the DMA is open until 11pm (Late Night tickets are required after 5pm). A variety of lectures, films and presentations round out the calendar.
Nasher Sculpture Center

2) Nasher Sculpture Center

An exciting addition to the Dallas Museum of Art, this 2.4-acre (9,700 square meters) Sculpture Center opened in 2003 as a free public park including both indoor and outdoor galleries. Its modern sculpture collection includes more than 300 masterworks by Harry Bertoia, Constantin Brâncuși, Alexander Calder, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and Auguste Rodin, among others. Raymond Nasher credited his late wife Patsy as his partner in collecting such remarkable works.

Whether it's day or night, sunny or rainy, visitors can get an interesting perspective of Nasher's permanent collection and special exhibits. The architecture housing the sculptures – designed by the world's most prolific museum designer, Renzo Piano – is no less amazing, with interior large window panels that allow for natural lighting, thus enhancing the shadows of curves and indentations of each piece of work.

The gardens are a wonderful retreat in the middle of a bustling downtown area, and that makes the Sculpture Center even more special. There is seating around in areas and the excellent café on site has a lovely patio as well.
Crow Museum of Asian Art

3) Crow Museum of Asian Art

Located across from the Dallas Museum of Art, this museum was truly a labor of love for Dallas couple Trammell and Margaret Crow, who amassed their fortune in real estate ventures. They started collecting Asian art in the mid-1960s and continued to do so for over 30 years, much of it having been bought by the lot to decorate various offices and hotels that they managed and owned.

Their entire collection – featuring pieces from China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia from 3500 B.C. to early 20th century – has been hand-selected and the ~570 works of art on display here are spectacular, ranging from a Tang-dynasty ceramic horse to over a hundred small bits of exquisitely carved jade, part of Trammell Crow's collection of 1,200+ jade items. You may also see lacquered pieces, an incredible samurai suit, a massive sandstone Mughal Wall from an 18th-century Indian home, or contemporary Asian art – and all in <90 minutes.

Visiting the Crow Museum is always a treat, more so now that they've had a major overhaul. With such an impressive renovated interior, the experience is well worth some extra time if you're visiting other places in the immediate area.
Meyerson Symphony Center

4) Meyerson Symphony Center

Angled on downtown's Flora Street, the Morton H. Meyerson Hall is a basic "shoe box" design wrapped in a swirling wall of glass, which contributes to its bold architectural statement. It's pretty hard to miss if you're wandering around in the vicinity. Most notably, there are 211 glass panels that make up the front façade and none of them are alike.

The architect of the world-class hall, I.M. Pei, had a history of cost overruns, and by the time the center opened in 1989, the project had gone from an estimated cost of $50 million to over $80 million, earning Pei a new nickname, "You Will Pay".

Inside, the costly facility features one of the largest mechanical-action organs ever built for a concert hall, fitted with no less than 4,535 operating pipes. The hall's acoustics are quite phenomenal as well, with 74 doors around the concert chamber that can be adjusted according to how much reverberation is needed. Additionally, there are 42 tons of curtains around the top of the stage that can be set to make musical notes arrive to the audience as purely and sweetly as possible.

Why You Should Visit:
The center is the permanent home of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Chorus, as well as the primary performing venue of the Dallas Wind Symphony, plus several other Dallas-based musical organizations. An outdoor plaza and stage is the site for numerous festivals and concerts, so the venue, all in all, is more than just a symphony hall!
Wyly Theatre

5) Wyly Theatre

The Wyly Theatre, located in Dallas, is celebrated for its innovative architectural and operational design in the global performing arts community. It's part of the esteemed AT&T Performing Arts Center, comprising four distinct venues. What makes the Wyly Theatre stand out is its ability to host a wide variety of performances, from traditional to experimental music, dance, and cinema, thanks to its adaptable interior space designed to swiftly accommodate different needs.

This adaptability is also evident in its eye-catching exterior, featuring vertical rods encasing all four sides of the building, resembling theater curtains' folds. This design element showcases the Wyly Theatre's innovative approach, seamlessly blending form and function to enhance both aesthetics and practicality.

Known for its intimate atmosphere, the Wyly Theatre ensures an immersive experience for the audience, regardless of seating arrangements. This intimacy is further accentuated by well-thought-out interior spaces, including a foyer that opens 90 minutes before showtime, offering amenities like tables with chairs, a concession area, and spacious restrooms designed to seamlessly integrate with the wall treatment, minimizing their visibility.

The Wyly Theatre in Dallas seamlessly blends creative architecture with versatile functionality, offering an unmatched experience for both performers and audiences. Its design caters perfectly to the demands of modern performance art, solidifying its status as a landmark venue in the theater world.
AT&T Performing Arts Center

6) AT&T Performing Arts Center

With hundreds of performances every year, four new venues and a ten-acre urban park, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, opened in 2009, is an exhilarating place to experience music, theatre and dance – hosting Dallas' most accomplished artists and performers as well as premier touring productions from around the world. You can always count on a fun evening here, or book a docent-led, free tour (with general information on each venue) at least 7 days in advance.

The Center provides homes for five resident companies – the Dallas Opera, Dallas Theater Center, Texas Ballet Theater, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Ballet Folklorico – in addition to producing original programming that covers a wide range of performances, including music, dance, Broadway shows, concerts and lectures.

The venues itself is very clean, with wonderful sound, comfortable seating, and nice sight lines (unless you are directly to the side). There are a few nice restaurants just a block or two away, too, so it makes a great location for an evening out.
Winspear Opera House

7) Winspear Opera House

The Winspear Opera House in Dallas, is a standout venue in the world of performing arts. It takes the traditional opera house concept and gives it a modern twist, blending advanced technology with classic design elements. Designed by the acclaimed architect Norman Foster, who has won the prestigious Pritzker Prize, this opera house is renowned for its unique appearance. Its circular horseshoe layout can seat 2,200 people, making it suitable for various performances like opera, ballet, musicals, and more.

What sets the Winspear Opera House apart is its remarkable architecture. The sleek red exterior and expansive glass front not only make it visually striking but also contribute to its exceptional acoustics, ensuring a top-notch auditory experience for the audience. Situated in Dallas's Arts District, it has become a focal point for both locals and tourists, drawing them in with its architectural charm and outstanding performances.

When visiting the Winspear Opera House, guests are encouraged to arrive early to catch a glimpse of the stunning LED-lit chandelier. This feature adds to the venue's allure, especially when it retracts into the ceiling before a performance, creating a starry night effect thanks to the "twinkling" acrylic rods. Since 2013, this mesmerizing display has been accompanied by "The Light," a piece composed exclusively for the occasion by Philip Glass. Together, the rising chandelier and the accompanying music set a magical atmosphere, preparing the audience for an unforgettable show.

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