‘More than a museum’: Memories of Fort Worth’s Kimbell Museum of Art as it turns 50

For 50 years, the Kimbell Art Museum has been the pride of Fort Worth.

The museum invites the community to celebrate with the opening of its new exhibit, “The Kimbell at 50,and a free family festival on Saturday, October 8, headlined by the Fort Worth singer abraham alexanderwith free entry to another recently opened exhibition”Murillo: from heaven to earth” during the week. Other events are planned throughout.

For the anniversary of the Kimbell Art Museum, the Fort Worth Report and KERA asked five clients what the place means to them:

Brentom Jackson, 37, mental health counselor in Fort Worth

Brentom Jackson first visited the museum on a school trip when he was 6 or 7 years old. He and his friends were much more interested in the big green lawn at the Kimbell than in the art on the walls.

One of the school chaperones noticed their agitation. Jackson still ponders his words:

“Even though it may not be reaching you right now, just go through the process (and) appreciate it because in a few years you’re going to look back and realize it was an experience, a privilege to really be in this space,” recalls Jackson.

Later, at Texas Wesleyan University, Jackson was given the assignment to write about a Kimbell exhibit. Back at the museum, Jackson remembered that excursion from long ago, even recalling some of what the professors had told the young students.

Jackson began to have complicated feelings about museums, the origins of their art, and how pieces were acquired. But he still took some friends from Austin graduate school to visit the Kimbell.

“One of the other things that I always appreciate about the museum is that it’s also kind of opened up to being just more than a museum. I think I’ve had, you know , meetings there over lunch. I did yoga there a few times,” he said. “Even in those days when there was a kind of love-hate relationship, it was more than a museum, it was kind of like, you know, a space within the community that you could use.

Now he is a father and he took his son to the Kimbell when he was 1 year old.

“It’s always been kind of a touchstone in every period of my life,” he said.

Morghan Gray is a ceramist who enjoys visiting the Kimbell because of its relaxing environment.

Morghan Gray, 38, a ceramist, moved to Fort Worth four months ago.

Morghan Gray recently moved from Austin, but had already made several visits to the Kimbell while visiting her twin sister in Fort Worth and their father.

“So whenever I visited, we used to go together and watch the new exhibits or even the [permanent] a[s] and just hang out and have fun,” Gray said. “Also, my dad lives in Granbury, so my sister and I like to visit the Kimbell with him, too.”

One exhibition in particular made an impression:

“When I went to Nefertari Exhibition, they had beads made of Egyptian clay. And when I started my first cycle in ceramics at Louisiana State University, I was taking a course in enamel making. It was the first thing that taught us how to make Egyptian dough,” she said. “So when I saw all the beautiful jewelry made from that, it kinda reminds me of like…I can do that. I know how they did.

The museum is not just a favorite family meeting place. It also inspires the works of Gray.

“I am a ceramist and therefore I work with drawing on the potter’s wheel. And sometimes I really need a break from the studio to gather my creative thoughts and take a moment and watch other artists, the composition, the color, the shapes,” she said. “So (that) really inspires me to keep doing too.”

Christina Blank, 52, professional artist and college art teacher; originally from El Paso but has been at DFW for 25 years

Christina Blank first fell in love with the Kimbell while attending Sam Houston State University.

She and a few classmates took a roadtrip to Fort Worth to see a show at the museum at the request of one of their teachers.

The first thing that struck me was the building. The Louis Kahn Building is simply amazing. The architecture and the way the light is diffused from the roof is just beautiful,” said Blank. “But also, because it’s such a small setting, you really feel like you can just be part of the art. It doesn’t feel like you’re in a warehouse. It’s very respondent.”

She’s a professional artist and art teacher in middle school, but she hasn’t had the opportunity to take her students on formal field trips to the museum. However, at his last school, several families held informal get-togethers there. They visited exhibits together and chatted about art while having a picnic on the lawn.

“What was really exciting was seeing 12, 13, 14 year olds being able to see art for the first time right in front of their face,” she said. “…We can talk about chemistry and how paint works together, and then we can try that in class and talk about what we’ve seen, and then they can try it in their own paints.”

Being able to see art up close also had a profound effect on her. The self-proclaimed chemistry nerd said she never had a deep appreciation for Renoir until she saw his work at the Kimbell.

“When I got in front of a Renoir in person, and I could see the layering he put in the colors, the way he suspended his colors with the oils and all that, I was blown away. And he’s now one of my favorite people,” she said. “…Because of the diffused light, because you don’t have harsh glare, you can actually see all those layers painting in art… And that’s one of the things that amazes me.”

Johnny Sanford.
Johnny Sanford said he enjoys recording music as a hobby and found his trip to the Kimbell inspiring.

Johnny Sanford, 49, U.S. Marshal and freelance artist

Johnny Sanford grew up in Fort Worth but spent much of his adult life in Dallas and now lives in Fort Worth. He recently made his first trip to the museum and said he was also blown away.

“As soon as I entered the building, I noticed the architecture,” he said. “There are these huge arches in the ceiling… The piano pavilion was a… nice glazed area. Glass walls. And you could see outside. Yes, I really enjoyed it. »

The amateur artist and self-proclaimed musician enjoyed the variety of artwork on display.

“There were several different pieces from different eras of the time,” he said. “The one that really caught my attention was the Buddha, Asian art, Egyptian arts.”

Having a free permanent collection and a rotating calendar of special exhibits broadens the reach of the museum, he said.

“I really believe that any time you have art exhibits that the community can relate to, it’s a plus for the culture of the area,” he said.

Brian Dickson Jr., 22, gallery assistant at Kinfolk House, grew up in Fort Worth’s Stop Six neighborhood

Brian Dickson Jr. first visited the Kimbell while on a college field trip to the Young Men’s Leadership Academy.

He still remembers the impressive color palette presented in Rococo and Baroque paintings of the time, the large scale of the works and how it felt in space.

“Honestly, my early experiences at Kimbell, uh, felt uncomfortable at times, being black and so on,” he said. “However, I definitely saw a change in the culture, in the atmosphere at the Kimbell.”

Dickson Jr. enjoyed the museum’s recent exhibit titled “Killwhich featured two artists’ take on the same story painted 400 years apart, as well as other lectures and panels the museum held.

He also credits Kimbell’s team, from security guards to cafe staff, for making the space welcoming.

“They foster that sense of community,” Dickson Jr. said. “Overall, many museums are becoming more welcoming and more inclusive of all voices, of all people, especially marginalized communities. And I really think the Kimbell Art Museum is part of that movement.

The changes make him excited about the future of the museum.

“To see Kimbell’s growth in diversity, equity and inclusion is magnificent,” Dickson Jr. said. to feel like they belong, and to see art that they can see themselves in.”

Celebrate Kimbell’s birthday at a free family festival on Saturday, October 8. From 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the museum.

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Do you have any advice? Email Elizabeth Myong at [email protected]. You can follow Elizabeth on Twitter @Elizabeth_Myong.

Mildred D. Field