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Visit Dallas HolidayUpdate


For folks dripping in family, the holidays become a blur  of Christmas recitals and family dinners.  For those of us with slimmer pickings in the family department, the holidays can make us feel a little left out.  Well, if you live in or around Dallas, there is no need to feel left out.  Dallas can keep you busier than a month of Christmases.  In a recent email from Stefanie Faulk of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau  I found an amazing list of things to do.  Find something that suits your fancy and get out there:

Special Exhibitions and Christmas Displays

Dallas Art District and Downtown

  • Pollack Party 001 Dallas Museum of Art (Now through May 20) Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots – This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, only the third major U.S. museum exhibition to focus solely on the artist hailed as “the greatest painter this country has ever produced,” is the largest survey of Jackson Pollock’s black paintings ever assembled. Exclusively on view in Dallas, it includes works that have not been exhibited for more than 50 years from an understudied yet pivotal period in the artist’s career. ALSO International
    At the Entry of the Exhibition
    At the Entry of the Exhibition

    Pop  – Take a step back in time. Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein are just a few of the artists included in this historical survey that chronicles the global emergence of Pop art from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. ALSO Spirit and Matter: Masterpieces from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art

    Detail from DMA brochure
    Detail from DMA brochure

    – This unprecedented exhibition, which critics have called “stunning,” showcases more than 50 historically important masterworks from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, one of the world’s most significant and rarely exhibited private collections of Islamic art.

  • House of Alba BrochureMeadows Museum (Now – January 3) Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting –  For more than 500 years, the Alba family has formed part of the most important aristocratic lineages in Europe, amassing an unparalleled collection of art through the years. In this exhibit, the Meadows
    Museum presents some of the collection’s finest works, many of which have never been seen outside
    of the family’s private castles.
  •  03._Male_firefly_model_DF.3711 Perot Museum of Nature and Science (Now until February 21) Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence – Creatures of Light explores the magical world of “living light” – mesmerizing organisms with the ability to glow – from flickering fireflies and fluorescent mushrooms to sparkling deep-sea creatures.  From dinosaurs to DNA, unwrap your holiday curiosity at the Perot Museum.
  • GorlzkiCrow Collection of Asian Art (Now – March 20) Alexander Gorlizki: Variable Dimensions – This rich kaleidoscopic experience features works of art as diverse as embroidered handkerchiefs and plant-like hand-mirrors alongside exquisitely crafted paintings with obsessive floral and geometric patterns.
  • Holiday Cheer at Reunion Tower’s GeO-Deck (Now – December 21) – Santa, his elves and furry friends from the Dallas Zoo will spread holiday cheer from 470 feet in the air. Catch special sky-high appearances at the GeO-Deck as you enjoy the view from Dallas’ most iconic structure. Experience breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views, high-definition zoom cameras, interactive touch screens, telescopes, photo ops and an indoor/outdoor observation deck that lets you see for miles in any direction.
  • Downtown Wanderland (All Season Long) – Downtown Dallas, Inc. invites visitors and locals to wander through bright and bustling Downtown Dallas and explore the city’s great retail, restaurants and bars. Enjoy season-long programming featuring holiday pop-up shops, happy hours, photos with Santa, movie screenings and more.

On the East Side

  • Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Now until January 3) Holiday at the Arboretum
    And a Partridge in a Pear Tree
    And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

    – Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with the magnificent 12 Days of Christmas outdoor exhibit – twelve 25-foot Victorian-style gazebos with charming costumed characters, music and more – and The Artistry of the Nativity at the historic DeGolyer House. And enjoy a stroll through the gardens on select evenings, aglow with half a million twinkling lights.

  • George W. Bush Presidential Center (Now – January 3) A Season of Stories: Christmas at the White House 2003 –  Great stories have a way of bringing families together. A Season of Stories will offer visitors a glimpse into the magical White House celebrations of 2003, including a full-size reproduction of the official White House Christmas tree and delightful décor featuring beloved storybook characters.
  • NorthPark Center (Now – January 3) The Trains at NorthPark – benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas is the most elaborate miniature toy trains exhibit in Texas. More than 1,600 feet of track takes visitors on a journey across America, from New York City to the Golden Gate Bridge. Also Visits and Portraits with Santa – Capture memories of a lifetime with one-on-one visits and portraits with Santa Claus. Children feel right at home in Santa’s cozy living room, complete with a fireplace and holiday tree. Take photos with your own camera or purchase professional portraits by Marc Robins Photography!

On the West Side

  • Christmas at the Anatole (Now – December 23) This holiday season the legendary Hilton Anatole Hotel will transform in to a winter wonderland complete with dazzling décor and festive programming. Featuring
    breakfast with Santa, face painting, Christmas-themed scavenger hunts and more, the Hilton Anatole is your home for the holidays.
Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Got Kids? Go Perot!

Perot's brochure for Creatures of Light
Perot’s brochure for Creatures of Light


Can you say Bio-luminescence?  Do you have any idea what it is? Well, you and your kids can find out all about it at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  I attended their media preview for Creatures of Light  and here’s what I found out.

Science – Not Just for Nerds Anymore

I’ve got to confess.  Science is not my strong suit.  And Nature?  I love it, but I have no burning desire to know much more about it than I already do.  I like to look at it, walk around in it and take pictures of it, but I’d rather learn about it’s depiction by a particular artist than learn the scientific facts behind any given natural phenomena – that’s just me.

Unlike me, today’s kids are crazy about science.  Take Thomas Surgent’s kids for instance.  Surgent is the Chief Compliance Officer and Deputy General Counsel for Highland Capital Management, a major sponsor of the exhibition.  Knowing he’d be speaking at the media preview, he asked his girls about their favorite subject at school.  The answer?  Science.  Their second favorite?  Recess!

Their enthusiasm for the subject matched the eagerness I saw at a previous media event, when the museum opened up their new Tech Truck to a group of students.  The kids crawled all over it as if they’d been told Justin Beiber (or whoever has replaced him) were hiding in a cabinet aboard the vehicle.  This science thing is really gaining traction.

Creatures of Light – Science with Recess!  

Colleen Walker, Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer of the Perot, was thrilled with the results of Mr. Surgent’s casual poll.  It sums up her goals for the museum exactly.  She encouraged all us media types to drop our adult inhibitions and look at the exhibit through the eyes of our inner child.

Here’s another confession, I didn’t do a good job of dropping my adult inhibitions.  The first thing I did inside the exhibit, darkened to protect fragile sealife, was try to take a picture with my phone.  I thought the flash was off, but of course it wasn’t, so in a space where we’d been warned not to use our flash, I flashed.  My sense of wonder wandered off and I didn’t see the charm of it all.

Then the real kids came in.  Many were wearing their Halloween costumes and all of them were enchanted – oooohing and aaahing their way through huge glowing models of beings, which in real life are tiny, even microscopic.  Suddenly Ms. Walkers admonition to drop our adult inhibitions made more sense.

I made my way back through the darkened exhibit and practiced my innocent wonder.  Mrs. Walker had been right.  All the exhibit needed was a little youthful enthusiasm.  My second look was so much better than the first.  With the help of the exhibit I returned to the backyards of my childhood, catching lightening bugs in a jar.  I entered a cave with glow worms, danced with tiny living luminescence and marveled at odd creatures glowing in the depths of our oceans.

Bring Your Kids or Be a Kid

The magic of bio-luminescence and florescence waits for you at the Perot.  Suspend your disbelief.  The show starts on Halloween and will be at the Perot until February 21, 2016.  There’s a sleepover for the kids on November 6th and Social Science:Glow on January 21st would be  a great date night for the more mature kids.

General admission to the museum for us large kids is $19 and an additional $7 gets you into the world of bio-luminescence.  Prices vary for kids and seniors.  As with our other museums and gardens membership makes sense.  Annual family memberships cost $110, cover your general admission and provide discounts for traveling exhibitions like Creatures of Light, as well as providing other benefits.

Thankfully the museum provided some photos, since yours truly wasn’t able to figure out how to turn off her flash.  Enjoy!



ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Perot Museum TECH Truck

Students from the Village Tech Schools help Perot CEO to launch TECH Truck
Students from Village Tech Schools assist Perot CEO launch TECH Truck


The TECH Truck is building up STEAM and heading out on adventures many museums never dare.  Thanks to generous donations from Dell, Perot Museum will be able to take their message on the road.  According to the Museum’s press release, the truck will be going into “economically disadvantaged neighborhoods” to spark the imaginations of young people who – “for a variety of reasons – do not or cannot engage with the Museum at its physical location.

The Acronyms 

Allow me to share what I’ve discovered about the alphabet soup of this project.  TECH stands for “Tinker, Engineer, Create and Hack” and STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  Our educational system is not currently producing enough qualified candidates to fill the available STEM jobs, so the Perot is sending the TECH Truck to change lives.  By inspiring kids to have an interest in STEM,they can be encouraged to enter these fields of study not only to get them out of their underprivileged neighborhoods, but to help our economy as a whole.  That’s a tall order.

I was particularly interested when they added “A” to their STEM acronym  to get STEAM.  The “A” inserts Art between Engineering and Math, because Art will be on the menu for the Perot/Dell TECH Truck.  Art is my passion and I’m glad it will be a part of the experience.  Little in my life has brought me as much joy as my love of the arts.  I’m all for encouraging kids and helping the economy, but I also want to keep art alive and meaningful.

Cookies and Technology
Cookies and Technology

The Media Unveiling and Ribbon Cutting

The Perot launched their new toy with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Thursday morning.  The bright shiny truck was set up behind the Perot on a special permits parking lot.  Oh, and there were cookies!

On hand were Colleen Walker, the Perot’s CEO, Teresa Lenling, Perot’s Director of Public Programs and Mona Charif a VP of Dell.  Each of the dignitaries expressed their enthusiasm for the project and then Ms. Walker was joined by students of the the Village Tech Schools for the actual ribbon cutting.

I might add that the scissors for the ceremony were created by the 3D printer which is part of the TECH Truck’s equipment list.  The tables were also decorated with objects created by the printer and the media contingency was fascinated by the colorful objects which ranged from attractive vases to miniature dinosaurs.

The doors of the truck were opened and the Village Tech kids eagerly swarmed in.  No technology was left un-handled. Photographers and videographers crowded around.  It was an exciting moment.

Outside the truck, tables were set up to share some of the kinds of experiences which will be available when the truck visits.  The tables featured wooden blocks for building, an electronic musical instrument and some great little gadgets called Little Bits that did all kinds of electronic tricks.

All Aboard for Knowledge

 The TECH truck will accomplish its lofty goals with a two-pronged approach.    The vehicle will head into the neighborhoods for drop-in sessions to set off STEAM sparks in some of the casual experimenters, hoping to transform them into interested participants.  The students who show a curiosity and an aptitude for the casual drop-in sessions will then be channeled into multiple-session mini-camps which will follow the same theme as the drop-in sessions.  The Museum’s  existing relationships with organizations like Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Boys & Girls Clubs will assist them in their efforts.

So, I wish happy trails to the Dell/Perot TECH truck and leave you with these photos.



Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Perot Museum of Science & Nature



Getting My Second Look at The Perot

Not quite a year ago I had the opportunity to attend a UTD alumni function downstairs at The Perot. I was glad to go, because lines still wrapped around the building on weekends and you had to order tickets in advance. We’re a little more spontaneous when it come to museum visits, so we were eager for a peek.  While there, we enjoyed the Musical Stairs and amused ourselves in the Sports Hall, but we weren’t allowed in the upper floors, so we put it on our “later list.”

A Perfect Sunday Afternoon for Strolling

A few Sundays ago the day was bright and we made our way downtown after church.  Since we’re DMA members, we took advantage of our free parking there and strolled over to The Perot where things were pretty quiet.  Dallas buildings are all comparatively modern, because we’re still a pretty new city in the big scheme of things, but The Perot’s deconstructed exterior takes modern architecture  to a new level.  I don’t know whether I like it or not, but you’ve got to give it creds for being different.

Starting at the Top – The Expanding Universe

Inside, we only had to wait in line for a few moments.  Tickets in haned, we were directed to the escalators which led to the top floor, Level 4. This must be a new trend, because just weeks before, at the new Briscoe in San Antonio, we were directed to start at the top.  I think it’s smart.  After seeing a floor or two it’s easy to say, “Let’s come back later,” but if you’re on your way down anyway, why not carry on.

We entered the Expanding Universe Hall and sure enough, they’re following another trend I’ve noticed: more information than you can possibly absorb, thrown at you willy-nilly, from the walls of the museum.  Obedient soul that I am, I started at the first display and began reading, only to be interrupted by my husband who was ready to move on to another section.

I was reluctant at first, because the museum walls hit one of my curiosity nails right on the head, comparing the knowledge of prehistoric man (as in Stonehenge and star charts in China) with the nonsense the Greeks spouted when they arrived on the scene.  “How did we lose all that knowledge and where did it go,” is one of my perpetual questions.  I can imagine a Dark Ages previous to what we call history, but even in the knowledge-starved Middle Ages there was an undercurrent of learned people keeping the flame alive.  The man on the street might not have known much, but there were people who did.

However, the exhibit did not answer my burning question.  I’ll just have to keep watching Ancient Aliens.  The exhibit went  on to discuss methods used to observe stars today and gave a run down of what they’re seeing out there now.  The hall wound up with a Journey Through the Solar System, but that was very crowded, so we moved on to the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall.

Taking a Look at Life Then and Now

Life Then and Now is a sort of natural history museum with fossils, bones and stuffed things.  These kinds of exhibits are not my favorite and on this particular day I enjoyed it less than usual.  As we perused the fossil remains of early life, a very loud proponent of evolution was just ahead of us adamantly vocalizing his disdain for Creationism, in rather crude and offensive remarks.  Obviously the guy didn’t realize it’s possible to intellectually embrace the fact of dinosaurs roaming the earth, without having to toss faith in God out the window.  We tried detouring the guy, but he seemed determined to follow me around saying things that made me want to punch him.  You’ll be glad to know I behaved myself.

Flying Above It All

On a mezzanine above the dinosaur bones is the Rose Hall of Birds.  This was a madhouse.  About midway along the mezzanine a motion sensor camera allows kids to pretend they’re soaring, while controlling a bird flying on a screen in front of them.  This is a real winner with the younger set, but it does create gridlock among the exhibits.  We headed to Level 3 which proved to be our favorite part.

Digging Into the Dynamic Earth

The Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall was my semester of Geology 101 condensed into a few exhibits, but we ride an earthquake simulator back in Nacogdoches.  Like other interactive exhibits, the earthquake simulator, was very busy – so we just watched.  But not very long, because the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall was calling me.  I love rocks, minerals and gemstones.  The color and variety of the specimens was fascinating, so I really couldn’t get enough.  When I’d been through them all, I wanted to return to the beginning and start again, but I didn’t.  I’d taken so long that Bill went through the Tom Hunt Energy Hall alone.  He wanted to ride the Shale Voyager, so I dragged myself away from all the pretty rocks.  The Shale Voyager didn’t seem to be quite as thrilling as the earthquake simulator and maybe that’s why the line wasn’t as long. They wanted participants to accept that they’d been shrunk down to fit inside a drill bit and I wasn’t able to suspend my disbelief.

Almost Downward Spiral

Maybe I was getting tired, but Level 2 wasn’t as compelling to me as the other levels seemed.  There were lots of hands-on exhibits, but it wasn’t anything that made me want to get my hands on them.  There was also a section about the Texas Blackland Prairie, but it would have been a better fit on Level 4 with the Life Then and Now Hall.

Then we hit the Musical Stairs and revisited the Lower Level.  The special exhibition, Animals Inside Out, took up most of the space, but I had no interest in seeing plastic encased animal guts.  We also stayed away from the Children’s Museum, since children aren’t our thing.  However, the Sports Hall was just as much fun as it had been on our first visit, but much more crowded, so we left the games to the kids.  One hint I will give you, ride the elevator back up to Level 1.  It’s harder to trip a light fantastic up the stairs than it is down.

So, do I think you should go to The Perot?  I absolutely do.  I also recommend you choose a weekday for your visit, so you won’t have so much competition for the participatory exhibits.  I can’t decide whether being kid-less was a blessing or a curse.  The blessing came because we didn’t have anyone throwing a fit when we walked past the lines waiting for the soaring bird experience or the earthquake simulator, but it would have been fun to see what some of my grand-nieces and nephews thought about it.  Have you been?  What did you think?

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The New Perot Museum


Warning this post has a split personality.  Part of me absolutely loved the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  Part of me didn’t.  Let’s start wit the part of me that did.

A Good Reason to Visit

I’ve been looking for an excuse to visit the new Perot and was very glad when when the UTD alumni association invited me to a mixer there.  I hoped that we’d get free reign of the facility and be able to check out the whole thing, but whatever was up, I wanted to see it.

A few days ahead, they emailed me to remind me of the date, but I didn’t open the emails until the morning of – then I started to worry.  Yes, the email did kindly remind me of the mixer, but they also warned me of potential parking hazards.  I was strongly warned to use the $15 valet service, because around the corner from the museum is the American Airlines Arena and the Mavs were playing.  I was advised that there was a $10 lot around the corner, but Bill hates to pay for parking, so the event was not exactly starting out on his best foot.

I forwarded the email to him to warn him about the parking and he seemed to take the news in stride, but that was because he assumed we could park at the DMA for free.  We’re members there and it’s just a few blocks from the Perot.  Too bad, so sad; the DMA was closed on the evening in question. Plan A failed.  Then we left a little late, traffic was awful and we made a wrong turn of two. Isn’t that always the way?  If there had been a Plan B, we weren’t doing real well on it either.

But God was good.  Bill missed the turn for the $10 parking and landed next to a parking meter.  For four quarters and quick stroll, we got the evening back on track.  Inside the Perot, we were given a nice glass of wine and offered some lovely hors d’oeurvres.  We were then treated to a series of neat little speeches that commended me for graduating from such an up and coming university.

Exploring the Museum

Released from the formalities we began to explore the parts of the museum we were given access to: the children’s area, the sports area and a traveling exhibition space.  The traveling exhibition space was of great interest to my husband, a wannabe architect/decorator/carpenter.  The development and construction of the museum were covered in a very hands-on, kinetic manner – just like he likes.

The kids’ area was darling.  There were things to climb, handles to rotate, water to splash and a farmers market with plastic fruits and vegetable to sort.  We even found glass cages with exciting things like snakes in them.  I could imagine about one hundred kids in there having the time of their lives.  Then I realized that right outside the door was a sandbox of enormous proportions.  Kids could not only get wet; they could also get dirty!  Oh to be young again!

Perhaps you are getting the drift of this place – innovative, interactive, hands-on…  Well, the sports area was no exception.  A race track encouraged you to kick off your shoes and virtually race sports greats, a dinosaur or even the person you came with.  On the opposite wall they used freeze frame photography to help you pinpoint the weaknesses of your football pass or pirouette, whichever you were most interested in improving.  They didn’t have a golf club, but Bill used a hockey stick to get his swing filmed.  The crowd loved it.

So What’s the Hate Part

So what did that other (fussy) part of me find to complain about.  Well, it’s really a matter of taste for one thing and probably the fact that we entered the building from a secondary entrance for another.

When I think of a museum, I lean towards classical architecture.   The Philadelphia Museum of Art, for instance.  Now, that’s a museum.  It’s not that I don’t like contemporary architecture.  My home is contemporary.  I love what I.M. Pei did for the DMA.  I’m one of the people who defends the Winspear Opera House.  But the Perot is just a little further out there than I’m comfortable with.

I do find the outside compelling.  I still crane my neck when I pass it and can’t wait until I’ve seen all the insides.  It’s new and different.  I want to know how the exterior interacts with the interior.  But the lower level entry used for the UTD event was disappointing.  It made me feel as if I’d happened into a constructions site.  It doesn’t matter where I enter the DMA, I’m instantly attuned to the building.  Not so at at the Perot.

I can tell you that when I explored the various exhibits, the architecture actually became transparent.  I was able to look at things without the building getting in the way.  That was very good, but I wanted the WOW factor. Hopefully one day soon I’ll walk into the main entry and be blown out of the water, but bringing me into the Field Street Entry was a disappointment.

I remember stepping into the Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. I loved the classical exterior, but I was thunderstruck the moment I stepped inside.  I literally stood there for a few minutes in awe.  I knew I’d arrived someplace important.  That’s what I want from the Perot.

The Field Street entrance lobby of the Perot just looks unfinished.  The hall was narrow and I wasn’t sure I was supposed to be there.  The primary surface I saw was raw concrete.  A large staircase commands a lot of attention and we soon discovered it was musical, which was enchanting, but it looked like it was covered in linoleum.  Somebody is probably going to tell me it’s some really expensive surface I should be impressed with, but it looked like linoleum to me.

So have you been yet?  What did you think?  I can assure you I’ll be going back and exploring the Perot deeper.  I won’t have any trouble getting Bill to go along with me, if I promise he can do the freeze frame filming again.  He’ll probably wear sneakers so he can race the virtual cheetah.  Should you go to the Perot? Absolutely!  Don’t you dare miss it! Just be sure to go in the main entrance.