USA: TECH-SAVVY TEXAS
FROM MUSEUMS TO GALLERIES AND BEYOND, THE TWIN CITIES OF DALLAS AND FORT WORTH HAVE A LOT TO OFFER.
From museums to galleries and beyond, the twin cities of Dallas and Fort Worth have a lot to offer.
“Everything is bigger in Texas, from people’s hair to their pick-up trucks,” says our tour guide. I’m standing between the giant letters 'B' and ' G' installed around big, bold Dallas and so I believe it. But there’s one tiny object in the Lone Star State that changed the world and I found it in a simple museum case so nondescript I nearly missed it. It seems
Texans don’t shout as loudly about their impressive technological credentials, with so many of them deployed to enhance the experience of its visitors.
The very first integrated circuit sits alongside one of the very first transistors dating back to 1954. Without these two little blobs of wire and plastic there would be no computers and no Internet.
The display is in the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which boasts one-time Presidential aspirant Ross Perot as its major donor. Perot left IBM in 1962 to develop Electronic Data Systems in Dallas and later invested in Steve Job’s NeXT project. Not surprisingly, the museum shows what can be done with lots of money to invest in technology to enhance the visitor’s experience. You can have your sporting movements such as your baseball pitch analysed against the greats to see how to improve. Most fascinating is a challenging terminal where you try directing your thoughts to remotely fire ping-pong balls, proving mind control does work.
The museum’s dinosaur floor is spectacular, not just for the menagerie of giant creatures but because real bones have been merged with 3D printed ones to great effect.
The Perot Museum goes against the boot-scooting unsophisticated cowboy image of Texas. The delight for visitors is that both aspects exist in harmony. The very next day after visiting the museum we were dancing at Billy Bob’s Texas in the Fort Worth Stockyards’ district– the ‘World’s Largest Honky Tonk’. It is so large there’s a live indoor bull-riding arena, several bars, a concert area and dance floor. We also visited the Kimbell Art Museum where we saw Michelangelo’s first painting and wandered among works by Caravaggio, El Greco, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt and Rubens with no crowds and no barriers.
The Kimbell Museum buildings themselves are wonderful. Indeed, the original 1972 building designed by architect Louis Kahn is so inspired that it makes the new Renzo Piano-designed building appear relatively ordinary. Both are presentation spaces done exceedingly well.
The Dallas Museum of Art is one of the largest in the United States, and it has an excellent app that allows you to locate artworks of particular interest to you.