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closer view of the bronze statutes
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Museum of Biblical Art

7500 Park Lane Dallas, TX 75225
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 1pm-5pm, Closed Monday.
214-368-4622 3 hours
June 2015 All year
$10-29 Dallas Texas
Website Educational Art Museums
First review
The Museum of Biblical Art features religious themed art with an emphasis on Christian and Jewish traditions. There are 11 galleries and approximately 30,000 square feet of display and event space. The collection contains over 2,500 works, and is quite diverse in style, themes and eras. Displays include portraits, sketches, statues, metalwork, garments, maps and texts. There are also some videos with more background on particular artists and their work. A conservation lab is not accessible, but it is viewable. There also is a small gift shop. Lectures and special events are periodically offered.

Founded in 1967 by Mattie Caruth Byrd, the museum's raison d'ĂȘtre is to encourage greater understanding of and appreciation for biblical themes in art and culture. In 2005 a devastating fire engulfed the building and destroyed much of the collection. Rather than close, the museum board opted instead to rebuild the structure and reacquire a collection. In 2010, it was back in business. A number of the high profile pieces, such as bronze castings of Michelangelo sculptures have been loaned to the museum by local art collectors.

Coming here on a rainy Sunday in June worked well from a privacy perspective. There were only a handful of other guests. A pleasant museum employee was welcoming and informative. He provided a brief overview of the galleries and pointed out some collection highlights. Unfortunately, no pictures were permitted inside, so this review is premised on a somewhat suspect memory and mostly illegible and unintelligible personal notes. An audio guide was included with the $12 entrance fee and was a good option. Signage was limited, so the audio guide was crucial to get a more informed perspective of the exhibits. The Jewish art gallery was closed earlier in the day, but fortunately opened later with enough time to check it out. A contemporary gallery of American art was only partially open due to some exhibit changes.

The visit started fairly slowly with a temporary exhibit on Greek Orthodox art, such as portraits, prayer stalls, and garments. Displays were slightly better in the European art section with Flemish and Italian works from the Middle Ages up to the 1800s. There were also some figurines and objects like an ornate metal key and a church ceiling tile. The level of interest and level of enjoyment kicked up a notch in the Byrd Gallery which has a popular 12' by 40' oil painting mural called the The Resurrection Mural and is by artist Ron DiCianni. Various figures from biblical history are seen bowing before Jesus as he emerges from his tomb. This painting was commissioned by the museum and is sure to connect to most people given the size, craftsmanship and subject matter. Also, a series of Thomas Kinkade's paintings which are often lampooned for their idyllic and bucolic settings was thoughtfully presented and discussed critically via the audio guide. The main atrium featured bronze casts of original Michelangelo sculptures. There also was an excellent video about the late sculptor Gib Singleton and a display he created for a church in New Mexico. There is a comparable exhibit out front of the museum - see pictures to the right. His work is highly distinct and powerful. The video of his style, motivations and vision was very interesting. Also, worthwhile was a display of paintings by artist Barbara Hines with an emphasis on religious sites in Jerusalem and biblical passages. Not to be missed is a fascinating huge painting called Tapestry of Centuries with a hodgepodge of famous and infamous personalities from Jesus to the modern era. Also, don't miss out on the Jewish gallery. The audio guide provided a good understanding of how various articles are used in the Jewish religious faith. A collection of fine Marc Chagall sketches was also displayed.

Leaving a museum with a sense of contentment and enrichment is a good indication of time well spent. While the exhibit space is fairly small compared to better known museums in the area such as the Dallas Museum of Art and the facilities are modest, the art was interesting and provocative. It was also informative from a religious/educational perspective and can serve to broaden one's horizons. It was a rich blend of art and religion (not too much of one or the other) and is distinctive in that regard. A visit here will most appeal to art enthusiasts, the intellectually curious, and religious historians. It's not a good choice for kids.
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