Waiting in line at LaGuardia Airport, I met a group of high school students heading home to Fort Worth, Texas after a fine arts tour of New York City. Which was somewhat ironic since I had just returned from a whirlwind tour of the City of Cowboys and Culture, home to some of the nation’s finest art collections including those of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Kimbell Art Museum.
Walking Tour of the Cultural District in Fort Worth
These art collections, as well as a number of other noteworthy museums and attractions, are found within walking distance of each other in a park-like quadrant of Fort Worth known as the Cultural District. An ambitious walk from corner to corner takes you from the Botanic Garden, past the Will Rodgers Coliseum (site of world-famous rodeos,) and on to the Aaron Carter Museum of American Art, where Remington bronzes are joined by masterworks from Georgia O’Keefe, Winslow Homer, and the like. Along the tree-lined streets, you will pass a number of remarkable outdoor sculptures. One kid-favorite, the cartoon-inspired “Companion (Passing Through)” by Brooklyn-based artist KAWS, can be found at The Modern’s entrance through January 6, 2013.
Equally interesting and possibly more thought-provoking is Joan Miró’s “Woman Addressing the Public,” standing sentry at the Kimbell. According to the placard, this bronze was “conceived as a stylized personification of motherhood.” Asked to opine, one art critic quoted To The Manner Born, “If that is what it feels like to be a woman, I am sorry madam.” Meanwhile, a young museum-goer offered an elaborate interpretation of the work’s origins in an on-the-street video interview.
If nothing else, the outdoor sculptures found in Fort Worth’s Cultural District offer plenty of ammunition for lively family discussions.
Tips for Touring the Kimbell Museum with Kids
For more conversation starters, pick up a Family Gallery Guide at the Kimbell’s Information Desk. The laminated picture cards provide fun facts and discussion questions, and they can be used to prompt a scavenger hunt throughout the museum’s permanent collection.
The Kimbell also offers free Acoustiguide audio tours for the permanent collection and building with about 25 family-friendly stops designed for children ages 7 to 12.
Before heading into the galleries, take a moment to look over the picture cards and form a game plan. A couple of good places to sit and chat include the museum cafe or the courtyard garden, both found on the right as you exit the central stairs on the second floor. Next to the cafe is a screening room, which on the day that I visited, featured a short film about the museum’s history – from Kay Kimbell, the wealthy benefactor who bequeathed “the best selection of old masters in the Southwest,” to Louis I. Kahn, the visionary who designed “one of the most significant works of architecture of recent times.”
From the very beginning, founding director Richard Fargo Brown stated that, “The goal shall be definitive excellence, not size of collection.” Today, the entire building can be covered in less than an hour, but any of the paintings or sculptures could easily merit as much time as you have available. As you’re touring the collection, consider letting kids sketch their favorite art pieces. Sketching is allowed in the galleries as long as it is in pencil or colored pencil and does not obstruct or interfere with other visitors.
Whatever you do, don’t miss your chance to see the only Michelangelo on exhibit in the Americas. The Torment of Saint Anthony is the earliest known painting by Michelangelo, painted when he was only 12 or 13 years old.
Who knows? A family tour of the Kimbell might inspire the next Michelangelo.
Plan a family visit to the Kimbell Art Museum:Kimbell Art Museum 3333 Camp Bowie Boulevard
Fort Worth, Texas 76107-2792 Phone: 817-332-8451 Web: www.kimbellart.org Hours: Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 am–5 pm; Fridays, noon–8 pm; Saturdays, 10 am–5 pm; Sundays, noon–5 pm. Admission: Permanent collection is free, fee for special exhibits. Family Activities: Check online for festivals, workshops, and art camps.