DALLAS — In the heart of the glittering metropolis, an escape into history’s cultural treasures lies in a gray building in downtown Dallas.
The Dallas Museum of Art is an easy day trip from East Texas, with free general admission. (Admission to the special exhibitions is $16 or less.)
In a window overlooking one of the city’s many freeways hang the delightful and bright glass discs by renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
The “Hart Window” looms over the caf￩ but also is one of the first items on display if you start from the top at the level four landing outside the Ancient Art of the Americas gallery and work down through the ages of the collection.
On the top level, the oldest of collections rests in galleries with steel gray walls, where many rough stone artifacts and primitive carvings are lit softly.
As you wind your way toward the bottom floor, the 24,000-piece collection shifts through global cultures — African, American, Mediterranean, Asian, Pacific Islands and European — and a variety of mediums.
Paintings from O’Keefe, Renoir, Manet, C￩zanne and Monet, sculptures by Rodin and Degas and pieces of ancient origin — including a mummy from Egypt — fill four levels of galleries.
Some galleries are a total immersion, with architecture fitting the art it holds, including some pieces in the Asian collection in a room with darkened lighting and paper-covered windows and a re-creation of the Mediterranean Villa La Pausa.
The design of the museum is open, with lots of natural light filtering in. Take some time on a cushioned bench to soak up a painting or circle a sculpture from every side.
Special exhibitions on display now include “Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take” and “Robert Smithson in Texas.” Check the dates for upcoming exhibits at dma.org/art/exhibitions.
The Dallas Museum of Art holds many events each month, including Late Nights the third Friday of every month, lectures, tours, workshops and family events. Check the museum’s online calendar for the latest events, dma.org/visit/calendar.
The museum also has an interactive feature, DMA Friends.
When you check in, you can join DMA Friends, and throughout the museum, small signs have activity codes you can send by text message or at the lobby kiosk and earn badges and points toward free parking, special exhibition tickets and special experiences.
The museum shop has many finds reflective of what’s in the collection and other art-related items, plus plenty of fun activity ideas to engage little ones’ artistic sides.
For the hungry art lovers, the caf￩ is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers exhibition-influenced dishes, salads and sandwiches, specialty plates, soups, sweets, snacks and Little Artists’ combos.
The museum is in the Dallas Arts District, home of many other museums and live performance venues, so plan to hit two or three stops or the museum and a concert.
See all the offerings and check the calendar atwww.thedallasarts district.org.