Things to know: Dallas Museum of Art

Adam Schasel, Staff Reporter

Disclaimer: The following guide to the Dallas Museum of Art is written by an Art History geek and, while intended for all audiences, may contain terms and jargon unknown to the masses.

Have cancelled Christmas travel plans? Maybe a Hanukah visit from your culturally pretentious relatives? Or possibly gearing up for a Kwanzaa staycation this break? Well, there is no better way to spice up winter blues (or show your Ivy-League cousin that there is, in fact, plenty of culture left in Texas) this upcoming break than a trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Here’s a quick list of things to know if you’re planning a holiday escapade to the DMA.

Admission is cheap or maybe even free.

I’ve gone plenty of times to the DMA the past couple of years, and one of the things I’ve always enjoyed is how inexpensive tickets are. Students, with an ID, must pay $5 for a ticket, while seniors and military personnel are charged $7. Adult tickets are $10 and children under twelve are free. DMA members also receive free admission (though, if you are already a member, I suppose you already knew this. In fact, why are you even reading this guide?). For less than the price of a movie ticket you’ll be entertained for probably twice as long and you’ll get to see countless pieces of culturally relevant artwork.

A side note: Students are technically required to bring an ID to prove that they are in school, but I routinely pay the reduced rate without identification. My guess is that the rule is intended for college students that look significantly more adult than a high school junior.

Buying a souvenir requires a second mortgage on your home.

I’m really not kidding here. The souvenirs in the DMA gift shop all look like individual pieces of art, right down to the LEGO kit-reproductions of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. The downside is that they cost just as much as individual pieces of art (that Falling Water LEGO set? It easily exceeds $100. It’s only ten inches wide, people!). However, I will admit that posters and a few (mostly children’s) books are priced more reasonably. Plus, it’s hard to blame the DMA: With tickets that are this inexpensive, there simply has to be another revenue stream somewhere. But for teenagers like me, buying a model car or elephant chair is out of the question.

The DMA has an interesting collection of Mondrian paintings- and not just his famous stuff.

The Dallas Museum of Art has a nice collection of pieces by Piet Mondrian, known for his pioneering of De Stijl (literally translates to “The Style”- don’t say I didn’t warn you!), or, in layman’s terms, his paintings of white spaces and black lines with splashes of concentrated primary colors.

But the surprising thing is that not all of the DMA’s Mondrian paintings are of his signature style; one of my favorites is a piece he painted of a windmill, done in a post-Impressionist style. Taking an AP Art History class coerces you into a mindset where one artist is known for one style, and that’s all that they did. But this is rarely the case. The DMA’s collection of Mondrian’s works is a nice reminder that artists created more pieces than those that appear in a textbook.

The Icebergs. ‘Nuff said.

Every art museum is known for one signature piece in its collection. The Louvre has the Mona Lisa. The Art Institute of Chicago has Georges Suerat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (immortalized in the hit 80’s movie Ferris Buller’s Day Off). I think an argument can be made that the Dallas Museum of Art’s signature piece is Frederic Church’s The Icebergs. This painting completely encapsulates what America, and, in effect, Texas, was about in the mid-19th century, before the Civil War. Although icebergs aren’t normal facets of American nature (unless you’re in Sarah Palin’s Alaska), but that’s missing the point; as American was moving westward, pioneers and artists alike felt so overpowered when confronting virtually untouched nature and Church managed to capture that awe toward nature in general with his painting. If anybody is even remotely interested in what it was like back then to be an American, this is a must-see at the DMA.

The DMA has a restaurant, but why would you want to eat there?

I haven’t tried the café at the DMA. I’m sure the food is fine but I’m even more sure that one meal at the Atrium Café would cost me a LEGO Falling Water (I still can’t get over it) or two. Instead, I would recommend Carmine’s Pizza, only a short walking distance from the Museum. The portion sizes over there are bigger than my abnormally large head, and the price is definitely something a 17-year-old like me can afford. Don’t worry about readmission; as long as you’re wearing the wristband they give you when you purchase your ticket you will be allowed back in.