The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth was established in 1892 as the Fort Worth Public Library and Art Gallery. The name has changed several times over the years but in 1987 it became The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The current home to The Modern was opened in 1992. The museum currently has 53,000 square feet of gallery space, a 5,600 square foot education center and a state of the art auditorium. There is an outdoor sculpture garden for larger works.
The Modern acquired its first painting in 1904. It was an 1875 creation by George Inness – Approaching Storm. In 1909, The Modern held its first exhibition with 45 paintings. A distinctive item in the permanent collection is Ladder for Booker T. Washington, a wood creation by Martin Puryear some 35 feet tall that narrows from about 23 inches at the bottom to 1 inch at the top, giving the feeling of a ladder to infinity.
Another indoor sculpture that is sort of hidden away is The Etruscan by Michelangelo Pistoletto . It is done in bronze and is a 6 foot tall robed figure gazing into a mirror. Although it is indoors, it is visible from across the reflecting pond while in the café.
Most of the second floor of this large museum is currently devoted to a temporary exhibition of the paintings of David Bates. The exhibit runs from February 9 through May 11. He is an artist that has worked in several mediums over his 40 year career and this showing features some 45 of his paintings. He studied art at Southern Methodist University and participated in a program sponsored by the Whitney. In the early 1990s, Bates began experiment with larger, more ambitious sculptures. He worked in the two media until the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina refocused him on the devastation caused and he began to capture the emotional images related to the suffering of the victims. He works in very bold strokes and vivid colors while portraying life in the Texas coast and bayou country . The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has 12 of his works in its permanent collection.
Opening in the second floor galleries on April 6 is the conceptual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija . Much of his work is directly related to the specific visitors as they visit his exhibitions. He set up a T-shirt factory for one exhibition. In Pittsburg, he cooked and served Thai food to the museum guests. This exhibit will run through June 1.
The Modern hosts many different programs.
On Tuesday evenings at the Modern, there is a popular series of lectures and presentations by artists, historians, and critics. This activity is free but tickets must be obtained as seating is limited. A live broadcast of the lectures is shown in the Café Modern (the restaurant on the site of the museum) and the restaurant serves cocktails, salads, and appetizers during the series.
The Modern has many programs throughout the year. They are for both the student of art, the general student, young people, and adults in the community. Some are free and some require tuition. There is information available at www.themodern.org/projects. In late February a tuition based two day workshop was held on the special exhibition of David Bates. Materials were included in the tuition.
During the summer, The Modern sponsors several Art Camps. Space is normally very limited for these camps and run several days each. There are camps for different age groups – from preschoolers through older campers. During these summer camp periods, The Modern solicits help from volunteers. Volunteer applications are available..
On most Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, there are Film Programs. Some of the programs tend to lend themselves to art house venues, one of the series, however, – “Lone Star at the Modern” is a series of Kurt Russell films that will appeal to most patrons.
Hours vary but information can be found easily at their website. There is an admission charge but it is free on the first Sunday of the month and is 1/2 price on Wednesday.