Texas is known for incredible views, but you don’t always have to be outdoors to enjoy them. In fact, some of the best sights in the world are on display in local art museums. With excellent exhibitions in every city – and some small towns as well – you won’t have to look very far to find something inspiring.
To get a head start on Texas’ art scene, head to Dallas, which is home to the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation. In the 1970s, the city decided to house its arts and cultural offerings in one district and call it the Arts District. The Dallas Museum of Art became the first entity in the district when it opened in 1984. It’s known for collections spanning from ancient to modern times, including work by such notable artists as Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. There are also beautiful Chinese jade pieces at the Crow Collection of Asian Art, just another example of how Texas can defy your expectations with treasures you never saw coming.
Dallas’ neighboring city, Fort Worth, is home to one of the largest present-day art collections in the nation—the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The museum specializes in post-World War II art, with works by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Other must-sees include the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame and Leonard’s Department Store Museum.
Further south, you can walk through San Antonio’s artistic offerings along the River Walk’s Museum Reach, located at the San Antonio Museum of Art. Housed in a historic brewery, this museum brings San Antonio’s rich heritage to life, with an eclectic mix of art from the Americas and Europe. Their permanent works include an incredibly comprehensive collection of Latin American art, ranging from the ancient to the contemporary. San Antonio also happens to be home to Texas’ first museum for modern art, the McNay Art Museum, which features stunning works by Pablo Picasso and Georgia O’Keefe, among other notables.
Also, don’t forget about Texas’ capital, Austin. Just up the road from San Antonio, Austin is never at a loss for ways to express its creative spirit. If you’re not impressed enough by the local graffiti scene, check out The Contemporary Austin, Mexic-Arte Museum and other local galleries that present exhibitions by artists from the region and across the nation. The Blanton Museum of Art also houses the nation’s largest university-owned and exhibited collection with classical sculptures and modern and contemporary American and Latin American art.
Looking for art out west? The El Paso Museum of Art has a collection of more than 6,000 works. This includes American art from the mid-19th to mid-20th century, European paintings and sculptures from the 13th through 18th centuries. Travelers can also explore the El Paso Museum of Archaeology and visit historic Spanish missions. Also in West Texas, the small town of Marfa has long been a destination for minimalist art since Donald Judd chose the area to live and work in. Today, the Chinati Foundation and various installations of contemporary art continue to build on his artistic legacy.
Other Texas towns filled to the brim with art include Port Arthur, which has the Texas Artists Museum, spotlighting artists from the Golden Triangle area and beyond. And Orange, Texas (just north of Port Arthur), has the Stark Museum of Art with some of the finest examples of 19th and 20th-century Western art.