Kimbell Art Museum — European Collection

Matisse L'Asie at the Kimbell Art Museum

Matisse L’Asie at the Kimbell Art Museum

Now is a wonderful time to visit the Kimbell Art Museum. There are no traveling exhibits to distract you from the Kimbell’s permanent collection.

European who’s who

My family and I spent a rainy afternoon touring Europe, or at least its art history. What the Kimbell lacks in quantity, it makes up for in the breadth of its European collection. From the birth of the Italian Renaissance with Fra Angelico’s painting of Saint James to the modernistic L’Asie of Henri Matisse, the Kimbell collection samples four hundred years of European art. Having recently completed an art history class, I have a new found appreciation of the museum. Name a key European artist, and you’re likely to find their work represented. There are Renaissance works by Donatello, Bellini, a young Michelangelo, and Titian. There is even a painting by the prolific Rembrandt (Bust of a Young Jew).

Rembrandt's Bust of a Young Jew at the Kimbell Art Museum

Rembrandt’s Bust of a Young Jew at the Kimbell Art Museum

It’s great fun to roam the three galleries in the Louis Kahn building and see such a wide range of works. There are portraits by Reynolds and Raeburn; Baroque paintings from Rubens; an amazing Turner (Glaucus and Scylla); and an entire range of pre- and post-Impressionists.

The gallery arrangement allows you to view the evolution of European artistic styles.

Guided tours

Guided tours of the museum’s permanent collection are offered Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Like many museums, you can download an app for your smart phone for your own audio guide of the museum’s works. Look at the placard for each piece of art for its ‘tour stop’ on the app.

Kimbell audio tours for adults and families

Kimbell audio tours for adults and families

You’ll find a three-digit number for the adult guide, and a two-digit number for the family description. Even if you are an adult, try the family tour – it gives you a more dynamic description of the artwork.

It’s all free.

Aside from visiting exhibitions, admission to the Kimbell is free. The museum provides programs for families such as its Pictures and Pages (storybooks with simple art projects for children ages 4 – 6); Kids Drop-in Studio (art project for children under 12); and Studio Five 90 (art for teens and adults). The programs are offered throughout the year – check the Kimbell Art Museum calendar for specific times and dates.

Dining at the Kimbell

My family always combines a trip to the Kimbell with a stop at the Buffet Restaurant. It is a wonderful place for lunch, uniquely offering a selection of soups, sandwiches, salads, quiche and dessert. You don’t have to pick just one item. Lunch is priced by plate size — small plates are $10 and large are $12. You can have soup, sandwich, quiche, and salad – all of it – the quantity is determined by your selected plate size.

When you go. The Kimbell is at 3333 Camp Bowie Blouvard, Fort Worth. The museum is closed Mondays. Onsite parking is free.

Tip. Download the Kimbell app before you go and don’t forget to bring your earphones.


Sundance Square Plaza

Sundance Square in Fort Worth is well worth a visit – even if you live in Dallas.

North Texas Ramblings - Sundance Square Plaza With so many people living in suburbs, city downtown areas often fall into decline. Dallas and Fort Worth are two cities bucking this trend by providing places for people to gather. Dallas has Klyde Warren Park, and Fort Worth has Sundance Square.

Anchored by the Bass Performance Hall, Sundance Square sports comedy clubs, jazz nightspots, and theater groups, not to mention the annual Lone Star Film Festival held every November. Shopping, dining, urban living, and hotels – Sundance Square has it all.

Sundance Square Plaza

Completed in November 2013, Sundance Square Plaza adds an almost European dimension to the Sundance Square scene. Outdoor seating surrounds a jetted fountain on the west side of the plaza. More than 200 jets shoot water into the air on a random schedule. Kids love it. They gleefully wait in anticipation for the water entertainment. Yes, kids can play in the zero-depth fountain (normally from 2 to 6 p.m.). There are some rules: no animals, street clothes only, and no pool toys.

On the east side of the plaza, you’ll find a cloud of four gigantic umbrellas sheltering outdoor tables from the sun. The 80-foot umbrellas, while immensely practical, have the elegance of an beautifully designed sculpture. At night, LED lighting illuminates the canvas ceiling.

Free Entertainment

With a new plaza, Sundance Square is the perfect spot for outdoor entertainment. A free, Sunday jazz series runs every other Sunday, through the end of June. Music starts at 3 p.m. Then on Wednesday evenings this summer, come by the square at 8:30 p.m. for a family movie shown in the plaza.

The Flying Saucer

What could be better than burgers and beer? How about burgers, beer, and bands? The Flying Saucer (111 East Third Street) has an outdoor stage that draws a crowd from within the restaurant’s outdoor patio and from people strolling Third Street. A beer emporium, the Flying Saucer has over 200 different beers on tap.

The Bird Café

The Bird Café (115 East, Fourth and Commerce) is a new restaurant opened following renovations to Sundance Square Plaza. The Bird Café has extensive patio seating facing the plaza, and indoor seating in the historic Land Title Block building. Decorated with bird prints from artists Scott and Stuart Gentling, the restaurant’s interior adds to the dining experience. The Gentling brothers toured Texas painting native birds in a style similar to that of naturalist John James Audubon. Bird Café sources many of its ingredients locally. The café offers some unique items such as quail and rabbit, along with more pedestrian choices.

Sid Richardson Museum

The Sid Richardson Museum (309 Main Street) is a unique little museum tucked in among Main Street storefronts. Richardson was a Texas oilman who made his fortune in the 1930s. The museum displays his collection of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell artwork. Western art is not normally my favorite, but I thoroughly enjoyed this small gem of a museum. A detailed guide gives you the story behind each painting. The museum is free.

When you go.

Sundance Square spans 35 city blocks. It supports a host of businesses, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and even a radio station (The Ranch, 95.9 FM). The architecture is an eclectic mix of modern, in some cases, high-rise buildings; and early twentieth century architecture. Parking is available in three large garages: Garage 1 (Commerce and First Street), Garage 2 (Calhoun and Third Street), and Garage 3 (Taylor and Third Street). Parking is expensive on weekdays, but free on weekends and after 5 p.m. There are so many unique shops and wonderful restaurants that I can’t list them all here. I hope you enjoy wandering the streets and exploring the shops as much as I did. Be sure to take time to relax in the plaza.


Money Factory

What would it be like to work surrounded by almost a billion dollars? I found out with a trip to the Money Factory. Located in Fort Worth, the Money Factory (also known as the North Texas Ramblings Money FactoryBureau of Engraving and Printing or BEP) conducts free tours of its facility, one of only two locations that print U.S. currency.

The buck starts here! Imagine printing presses churning out sheets of hundred dollar bills. Or pallets stacked with money bricks, 400 notes to a brick. On any given business day, the Fort Worth BEP produces 36 million notes valued at $526 million.

The tour is conducted from a glassed-in, elevated walkway above the factory floor. Visitors see all three types of printing processes used to make money.

  • The intaglio printing pushes ink into the sheet giving money its three dimensional, textural feel.
  • The off-set press gives higher denomination bills their color.
  • The letter-press printing process serializes the notes.

Between each printing step, currency sheets dry in controlled areas on pallets.

Laundering money. Guides provide fun facts throughout the Money Factory tour. I learned that paper currency is actually a misnomer. U.S. notes are printed on specially designed sheets made of cotton and linen fibers. The fiber blend prevents money from falling apart in a washing machine or tearing when it’s folded too many times. To meet BEP quality assurance standards, currency must be able to withstand six washing machine encounters!

What you won’t see. The Money Factory has just one customer, the Federal Reserve Bank. Security restrictions prevent BEP visitors from viewing the 19,000-square- foot Federal Reserve vault that stores the finished currency prior to its shipment to one of the 12 Federal Reserve banks.

Learn about BEP. A self-guided walk through the visitor center is almost as much fun as the factory tour. Interactive exhibits and displays provide detailed information on all the engraving and printing processes involved in currency production. My favorite exhibit told the story of the Mutilated Currency Division. They refund damaged money, like currency damaged by fire or flood. The most outlandish example of the division’s work involved a man and his money eating cow. The man killed the cash consuming cow and sent the damaged currency (still in the bovine’s stomach) to the Mutilated Currency Division. And yes, he did get his money refunded.

Early counterfeiters. I also learned about the history of money and counterfeiting. Cacao beans were used as currency by the Aztecs. Some would counterfeit the cacao bean by removing its meaty center and replacing it with mud. Today’s counterfeiters are more sophisticated and BEP uses a variety of measures to foil attempts to counterfeit currency including the use of color shifting ink, security strips and more.

The 10 cent note. Surprisingly, the United States didn’t use paper currency until the Civil War. In 1861, the Treasury printed fractional currency in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents to offset coin hoarding. Today, BEP produces $1, $2, $5, $10, $50 and $100 notes. The largest denomination printed was the $100,000 note used only between banks prior to the advent of electronic fund transfers.

When you go. The Money Factory in Fort Worth is located at 9000 Blue Mound Road. Public tours are Tuesday through Friday (except federal holidays) from 8:30 4:30 p.m. All visitors must pass through security. BEP advises people to allow up to a half hour for the security check during its busiest times (spring and summer break). Cell phones, cameras, backpacks and any sort of weapon including pocket knives are strictly forbidden. For more information call the visitor center at (817) 231-4000.