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10 of the Dallas area's must-visit museums



Of all the things to see and do in the Dallas area, some of the city’s biggest draws are its top-notch museums. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise since the city is rapidly becoming a premier hub for art and culture. 

To start, Dallas is home to the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation, where within a 19-block stretch you can explore the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Crow Museum of Asian Art and the Perot Museum of Science and Nature in one fell swoop.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks over from the Perot Museum is the Historic West End District, which is the location for the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.

Over on the SMU Campus lies the George W. Bush Presidential Center as well as the often-overlooked Meadows Museum, a must-visit destination for Spanish art.

And these just scratch the surface of what’s on offer. Scroll on for the complete 10best lineup and be sure to check out Dallas area’s awesome family-friendly museums too.


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National Videogame Museum
Photo courtesy of National Videogame Museum


Situated inside the Frisco Discovery Center, the National Videogame Museum (NVM) is a veritable retro gamer's nirvana, dedicated solely to the history of the videogame industry. The brainchild of three longtime gamers, the museum features a mind-blowing collection of videogame consoles, artifacts and games, including the largest working Pong game in the world. And not only can visitors see all the great games from the past, but they can also play them. Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, they're all here as well as an 80's style classic gaming arcade with gaming stations for you to go head-to-head with family and friends. Oh, and did we mention that there's even an interactive 1980s-style replica bedroom and living room set up for TV gaming? Talk about a blast from the past.

Recommended for Museums because: A museum filled with video games, many of which are available to play, what's not to like?

Ilene's expert tip: Admission includes game tokens to use in the retro arcade. The museum offers free guided tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. every Sunday.

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Frontiers of Flight Museum
Photo courtesy of Frontiers of Flight Museum


Located in a 100,000-square-foot airplane hangar at Love Field Airport, this Smithsonian affiliate is a must-visit for aviation buffs of all ages. The museum is home to over 35,000 artifacts showcased in 13 galleries detailing the history of space and aviation. Expect to find around thirty types of aircraft and space vehicles, including a full-size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer, a replica of Sputnik I and a Chance Vought V-173 Flying Pancake. The Apollo 7 command module (which is on loan from The National Air & Space Museum) is also here as well as the only actual moon rock on display in North Texas. As a bonus, there's a hands-on children's discovery area featuring a control tower for kids to climb around on.

Recommended for Museums because: The Frontiers of Flight is an ideal place for aviation enthusiasts as well as children.

Ilene's expert tip: The museum frequently hosts private events, so be sure to check if it's open before you go. You can usually score discounted admission through Groupon. Children age 3 and under are admitted free.

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Crow Museum of Asian Art
Photo courtesy of Visit Dallas


Formally known as the Crow Collection of Asian Art, this stunning museum in Dallas' Arts District features over 1,000 masterworks, hailing from Japan, China, India and Southeast Asia, many of which have been assembled from the private collection of local real estate mogul Trammel Crow and his wife Margaret. Here, visitors can explore a series of galleries showcasing art objects, paintings, scrolls and large architectural pieces, some of which dates to the 10th century. The museum also hosts special exhibitions featuring art from renowned collectors, other museums and private institutions throughout the world. Highlights include a collection of Chinese jade objects and a suit of Samurai armor from the Edo period. The museum's gift store, The Lotus Shop, is also worth a visit. Best of all, admission to the museum is always free.

Recommended for Museums because: The Crow Collection is one of the few U.S. museums to focus solely on Asian art.

Ilene's expert tip: Visitors can park in the Trammell Crow Center parking garage for $1 per 15 minutes on weekdays and a $5 flat rate on weekends. There is also metered parking nearby.

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George W. Bush Presidential Center
Photo courtesy of George W. Bush Presidential Center


Second in size behind Ronald Reagan's Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, this stunning complex on the Southern Methodist University campus encompasses not only a library and museum but also the George W. Bush Policy Institute and the George W. Bush Foundation. However, most visitors will only see the museum, which features 14,000-square-feet of exhibits and interactive displays, including a 22-foot tall ravaged steel beam from the World Trade Center and a full-scale walk-through replica of the Bush Oval Office. Also, on view are some of the gifts given to the President and First Lady from foreign Heads of State. Keep an eye out for special exhibits and events throughout the year.

Recommended for Museums because: The George W. Bush Presidential Center is a terrific place for all ages to learn about history and Bush's experiences during his presidency.

Ilene's expert tip: There is a parking lot adjacent to the library or if it's full there is a parking garage located down the street on the SMU campus. This venue is included in Dallas CityPASS.

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Meadows Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Meadows Museum of Art


Located on the Southern Methodist University campus, the Meadows Museum was first established in 1965 to house the collection of Spanish art assembled by Dallas oilman and philanthropist Algur H. Meadows. Today, the museum is regarded as having one of the largest and most significant collections of Spanish art outside of Spain, thus earning it the nickname, "the Prado on the Prairie." Among pieces spanning from the 10th to the 21st centuries are works by masters such as Dalí, El Greco, Miró, Picasso, and Velázquez. In addition to the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, the museum also features an assortment of 20th-century sculptures, including Santiago Calatrava's Wave which can be found on display in its outdoor plaza.

Recommended for Museums because: The Meadows Museum is truly one of Dallas' hidden art gems.

Ilene's expert tip: The museum offers free admission after 5 p.m. on Thursdays. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free. Complimentary parking is available in the garage underneath the museum at the corner of Bishop and Schlegel.

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Nasher Sculpture Center
Photo courtesy of DCVB


Located next to the Dallas Museum of Art, this outstanding 55,000-square-foot facility, designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano in collaboration with landscape architect Peter Walker in 2003, was created to showcase the private sculpture collection of real estate developer Raymond Nasher and his wife Nancy. The collection is regarded as one of the most extraordinary assemblages of modern and contemporary sculptures in the world, with more than 300 significant works of art from masters such as Rodin, Brancusi, Matisse, Picasso, Koons, Calder and Miró. In addition to the indoor gallery, there is a lush 1.4-acre outdoor garden featuring pieces by Willem de Kooning, Mark di Suvero and Pablo Picasso, among others.

Recommended for Museums because: The Nasher Sculpture Center houses one of the best modern and contemporary sculpture collections in the world.

Ilene's expert tip: The sculpture garden is always free to visit. The Nasher offers free admission on the first Saturday of the month. Also, note that the center hosts a variety of public programming like free concerts and film screenings which usually include complimentary admission to the museum.

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Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Photo courtesy of Perot Museum of Nature and Science


Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne, this stunning 180,000-square-foot science museum on the outer edge of the Arts District boasts five floors of interactive exhibits focusing on everything from earth and space to geology, paleontology and engineering. Highlights include a children's museum with a dinosaur dig, an earthquake simulator and a gallery of gems and minerals featuring a 5-foot geode. A good way to start is to take the external glass escalator up to the top and work your way down while enjoying the panoramic views of downtown Dallas. Whether you're a science buff or just have a curious mind, this place is certain to fascinate visitors of any age.

Recommended for Museums because: The Perot Museum is the best place in Dallas for science nerds to geek out.

Ilene's expert tip: Avoid the long lines by securing your tickets online beforehand. You can also save on admission to the Perot Museum with Dallas CityPASS. Check the website for more details.

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Dallas Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art


The sprawling 370,000-square-foot Dallas Museum of Art, designed by New York architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, offers one of the largest and most impressive art collections in the nation. Its permanent holdings, dating back from the third millennium BC to the present day encompasses over 23,000 works of paintings, sculptures, jewelry and artifacts from all over the world. Expect to see masterpieces from heavy hitters such as Pollock, Rothko, Monet, Rodin and Picasso to name a few. Beyond the galleries, the museum houses a children's creative zone, a sculpture garden and a cafe featuring a window of Dale Chihuly's glass flowers. And except for certain exhibitions and events, general admission to the museum is always free.

Recommended for Museums because: The Dallas Museum of Art houses one of the largest and most impressive art collections in the nation.

Ilene's expert tip: The museum is open until 11 p.m. on the third Friday of the month. Note that Late Night tickets are required after 5 p.m.

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Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Photo courtesy of DCVB


Whether you're a history buff or a conspiracy theorist, you'll find the Sixth Floor Museum an interesting source of information about the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. The museum's exhibits contain over 45,000 items, ranging from artifacts to home movies and video footage, documenting Kennedy's presidency through to his final days. One of the highlights of the tour is the Plexiglas enclosed area where Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have fired the fateful shot. After visiting the museum, be sure to go down to the grassy knoll to gain more perspective about what transpired that tragic day.

Recommended for Museums because: The Sixth Floor Museum is one of the most visited attractions in Dallas.

Ilene's expert tip: The museum offers timed tickets available online for purchase 30 minutes or more in advance. Also, note that this venue is on CityPass. The free D-Link bus stops directly outside the Museum at Houston & Elm.

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Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum
Photo courtesy of Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum


After three years of construction, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum opened in its new sprawling West End location on September 18, 2019. The stunning, copper-clad 55,000 square foot facility features three technically enriched exhibition halls, which not only offer visitors a harrowing glimpse into the Holocaust but also addresses other 20th century genocides and America's civil rights movement. Among the displays are video testimonies from Dallas-area Holocaust survivors, an original Nazi-era boxcar, numerous items recovered from concentration camps and a floor-to-ceiling replica of the Brandenburg Gate. A highlight of the museum is an innovative Dimensions in Testimony Theater (one of only two such theaters in the world) which uses holographic imagery to facilitate real-time interactions with Dallas Holocaust survivor, Max Glauben. Note that the museum is recommended for ages 12 and over.

Recommended for Museums because: The Dallas Holocaust Museum is a first of its kind to honor both human rights and the memory of the Holocaust.

Ilene's expert tip: Make sure to check in with guest services upon arrival to reserve a time slot for the theater.

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Meet Ilene Jacobs

As a perpetual wanderer, foodie freak and wannabe chef, Ilene is always on the lookout for the best places to see, eat, drink and sleep. When she's not writing about the latest happenings in...  More About Ilene

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