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Fort Worth's Worthy Museum Collection

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The Metroplex, an area encompassing Dallas, Fort Worth, TX and several smaller communities, presents such an extraordinarily rich selection of attractions, tourists may have difficulty deciding what to schedule into their itineraries.

Among the musts is Fort Worth's cultural district, where you'll find six world- class museums within walking distance of each other.

For anyone identifying Fort Worth primarily as a gateway to Wild West experiences, this worthy collection of sophisticated cultural venues will come as a surprise. But Fort Worth is also famous for civic pride, and for wealthy citizens who've contributed lavishly to their city's cultural venues.

Amon Carter, the media mogul, is famous for his gifts to Fort Worth's cultural and educational institutions. His charitable legacy includes the Amon Carter Museum (www.cartermuseum.org), a centerpiece of Fort Worth's cultural district. Housed in a Philip Johnson building are an array of some 700 works of American art dating from the 1820s to the present, including Carter's own comprehensive collection of 400 works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The wonderful exhibitions let you see the evolution of America through art.

Nearby, the Kimbell Art Museum (www.kimbellart.org) presents its highly selective, distinctive and diverse collection of some 350 masterworks, ranging from ancient classical and Egyptian artifacts to European old — and modern — master paintings, as well as ancient Asian, African and American art. Equally impressive is the museum's perfect modernist architecture. Resulting from an acclaimed collaboration between the museum's first director, Richard F. Brown, and architect Louis I. Kahn, the building's signature cycloid-vaulted ceilings, minimalist interior, surrounding landscape with a reflecting pool, integration of open and enclosed spaces and diffused natural lighting from slits in the cycloids are hailed as the perfect art museum environment. The Kimbell's current exhibition, "Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art" (an exclusive, presented through March 30) features treasures borrowed from the Vatican, Laurentian Library, British Museum and other world-famous collections.

Facing the Kimbell, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth's (www.themodern.org) building, designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, is a boldly modern minimalist structure with five flat-roofed pavilions of steel, concrete and glass that border a 1.5 acre reflecting pond.

The museum's collection of post-World War II art, about 2,600 significant works shown on a rotating basis, is lit naturally with linear skylights and clerestory windows. (Works are always displayed with a lot of space around them, so you can really contemplate them.)

Several blocks from the Modern, exhibits at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame (www.cowgirl.net) focus on the women of the American West. The museum, established in 1975, is unique in its celebration of pioneer women who demonstrated extraordinary fortitude, courage and cleverness in settling the West: famous trailblazers, ranchers and rodeo riders, as well as actresses who played cowgirls in movies and female artists, photographers and writers whose works record the history and development of the West.

One of the museum's most popular features is the series of portraits of Cowgirl Hall of Fame members. The portraits, placed high overhead at the base of the museum's atrium, seem to watch you as you pass beneath them. Great rodeo riders and other cowgirls of outstanding accomplishment are inducted into the Hall of Fame each year. Additionally, the exhibit of Barbara Van Cleve's photographs record the lives of seven ranch and rodeo women, including Lynn Jonckowski (World Champion Bull Rider in 1986 and 1988), Fern Sawyer (New Mexico rancher and cutting-horse champion), Jan Youren (still riding rodeo at age 60) and others.

The Cattle Raisers Museum (www.cattleraisersmuseum.org) and Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (www.fwmuseum.org) are also concerned with the West's history, culture and environment, but these institutions are closed while they're awaiting their new homes, scheduled to open in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Science and History Museum's preview center uses time lapse photography to show progress on the new building and give visitors an idea of what it will look like, and you can use blocks to design a museum of your own. (And, several skeletal exhibits are temporarily housed at the Cowgirl Museum.)

Schedule at least one day to enjoy these marvelous museums. To prioritize, preview them on their websites. For Fort Worth travel information, visit www.fortworth.com.

To find out more about Jennifer Merin and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 JENNIFER MERIN

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.


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