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Why Art Fans Love Visiting Dallas

With renowned museums, award-winning performing arts, and free public art, Dallas is an art lover’s dream vacation.

See art everywhere you look in downtown Dallas

See art everywhere you look in downtown Dallas

Courtesy of Visit Dallas

With top artworks at its museums and galleries and a wide variety of performing arts shows year-round, Dallas is a vibrant destination for those who love art. Modern theatrical productions and classical music. Contemporary sculpture—in gardens and a mall. An Arts District voted the best in the country by USA Today readers.

From lauded ballet and theater to live music ranging from opera to country, there’s always a great show to see or art to enjoy for free. Here are some of the best ways to experience the city’s rich and accessible arts scene.

Visit museums in the Dallas Arts District

Courtesy of Visit Dallas

See artwork ranging from modern to ancient at the Dallas Museum of Art

Courtesy of Visit Dallas

With more than 25,000 works of art, from Native American woven baskets to Basquiat, the Dallas Museum of Art (simply “the DMA” to locals) is now one of the 10 largest museums in the country—and it’s free. The hub of the Dallas Arts District, the DMA’s modern design by architect Edward Larabee Barnes and well-spaced-out exhibits create a peaceful, contemplative vibe.

Pop into the Nasher Sculpture Center across the street to see its extensive collection of modern, contemporary sculpture including pieces by de Kooning, Giacometti, Matisse, Miró, Rodin, Picasso, and others. If it’s a pretty day—and chances are, it will be—grab lunch or a coffee from the café to enjoy in the garden among the sculptures.

Wander through Dallas’ local art galleries

See what’s on the walls at the Dallas Design District’s Conduit Gallery, showing works by local and emerging artists since 1984. Conduit is open to various media, so you may see a photography show, still-life paintings, or sculptures made of straw and plaster.

Find British contemporary art, such as works by Damien Hirst, Michael Craig Martin, and Sarah Lucas, along with revolving exhibitions by international artists, at The Goss-Michael Foundation, founded by the late pop singer George Michael and Kenny Goss. Not far and housed in a historic former Dallas Power and Electric power station, is the aptly named Power Station. The nonprofit gallery focuses on bringing contemporary art to the city through rotating, large-scale international shows such as Miguel Sbastida’s Future Reefs, a sculptural tangle of cords and wire.

See all the free public art in Dallas

Courtesy of Visit Dallas

Enjoy the free art in Dallas’ Deep Ellum district.

Courtesy of Visit Dallas

Art is everywhere you look in Dallas—and sometimes it’s looking back. Go downtown, where you can’t miss The Eye, artist Tony Tasset’s 30-foot sculpture made of fiberglass, resin, and steel that’s a replica of his own eyeball. Afterward, head east to Deep Ellum, the city’s live music district, to see the colorfully painted walls that make up the 42 Murals street art project, created by local North Texas artists.

A 10-minute drive away is NorthPark Center, a mall that feels like a contemporary art museum. One of the city’s premier shopping destinations, NorthPark was created by Raymond Nasher in 1965, in part to showcase his collection of 20th- and 21st-century art, including works by Frank Stella, Jonathan Borofsky, and more. The retail stores have changed over the decades but the art has always been a consistent draw.

Watch a live opera, ballet, or symphony performance in the Dallas Arts District

Watch tragedy unfold, one spectacular emotional aria after another, as the Dallas Opera stages favorites like La Traviata and other classics. The horseshoe-shaped, acoustically magnificent Winspear Opera House was hailed by Opera magazine as the country’s finest. You can also take in a performance of Giselle or The Nutcracker by classical ballet company, Texas Ballet Theater.

The largest performing arts organization in the Southwest, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, performs classics, pops, and hits from Nashville, at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, designed by the dream team of Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei and acclaimed acoustician Russell Johnson. Named one of the top 10 concert halls in the world by acoustics legend Leo Beranek, the shoebox-shaped space even has wooden canopies over the stage that can be lowered or raised to adjust the sound.

Relax outdoors at the Nasher Sculpture Center’s sculpture garden.

Relax outdoors at the Nasher Sculpture Center’s sculpture garden.

Courtesy of Visit Dallas

Catch a play at one of Dallas’ local theaters

Take a seat and enjoy the collective energy that comes with the unpredictability of live theater. Founded in 1959, Dallas Theatre Center puts on original works and beloved classics and was one of the first regional theater companies in the country. Today, it stages plays for audiences of all ages, from Disney’s Little Mermaid to Waitress.

Known for its experimental, boundary-pushing work, Deep Ellum’s Undermain Theatre often sells out. Its performance space is small—just 80 seats in a renovated warehouse basement—and its repertoire is just as edgy.

Sing along to live music in Dallas

Often called the best live music venue in Dallas, the art deco theater The Kessler in Oak Cliff is a local favorite, hosting marquee and local acts in a casual, intimate setting with two bars. Its shows regularly sell out, so check the schedule in advance, and you just might snag a pair of tickets for the likes of country guitarist Junior Brown, Steve Earle, or Grammy Award nominee Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

Originally built for Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in 1950, the historic Longhorn Ballroom (once managed by Jack Ruby) has welcomed legends in country, R&B, jazz, and more, from Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline to Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, and B.B. King. Today, you’re as likely to see Asleep at the Wheel as Men at Work or Los Lobos.

Visit Dallas and explore the city’s top things to do, places to eat, shopping and much more.
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