Goodbyes and hellos: Arlington Museum of Art staff cherish old space before moving

dfwnewsa | January 8, 2024 | 2 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Goodbyes and hellos: Arlington Museum of Art staff cherish old space before moving

The old Arlington Museum of Art welcomes visitors Jan. 7, 2024, on West Main Street. The museum will be closed starting Jan. 8 to prepare for the move to the new location in the Entertainment District. (Dang Le | Fort Worth Report)
” data-medium-file=”https://fortworthreport.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/IMG_0152-scaled.jpg?fit=300%2C200&quality=89&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://fortworthreport.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/IMG_0152-scaled.jpg?fit=780%2C520&quality=89&ssl=1″>
Arlington native Chris Hightower remembered the outings with his grandmother on weekends. 

They went to museum after museum, and Hightower’s love for the arts grew. But he noticed something was missing. 

Sponsored

“When I asked her to take me to the art museum in my own hometown, she said she couldn’t because there wasn’t one,” said Hightower, now president and CEO of the Arlington Museum of Art (AMA).

Hightower joined the museum in 2006 and became its president in 2021. He witnessed the museum’s growth. After almost 34 years in downtown Arlington, the museum held its last exhibition Jan. 7 at the old location. It is moving to 1200 Ballpark Way, where it will host the first exhibition in its new space in March. 

Staff members say they are excited but also feel sentimental about the old space.

“Now, as we prepare to move the Arlington Museum of Art to its new premier home in the city’s Entertainment District, I think of how proud my grandmother would be,” Hightower said.

The old location

Amy Schultz’s first exhibition with the Arlington Museum of Art in 2019 changed her life. 

Schultz, who was the museum’s first artist-in-residence, presented a multimedia art exhibition focusing on the history of homecoming mums, she said. What came after was a book deal, a traveling cultural heritage exhibition and panel discussions on mums. Multiple smaller museums reached out to Schultz, inspired by the idea.

To Schultz, the museum is powerful — a space of creativity, community, accessibility and forward-thinking. Currently the museum’s senior writer/editor, she wants to be a part of it for life. 

The museum and downtown Arlington have been almost synonymous for so long, and the partnership has served the community for decades, said Jay Warren, museum’s former board president. 

“The AMA is proud to have been a part of the rebirth of downtown Arlington, and we look forward to being part of the creation of a new museum district within the Arlington Entertainment District,” Warren said. 

The new Arlington Museum of Art will relocate to the Esports Stadium and Expo Center on Ballpark Way in the city’s Entertainment District. The museum will host its first exhibitions in the new space starting March 30. (Dang Le | Fort Worth Report)

The museum’s new space

The museum struck a deal with the city last April for a new location. The museum will pay $2.9 million to remodel the exhibit space, and the city will spend $1.9 million to improve the shared space between Esports Stadium Arlington and the museum.

In 2023, the museum saw a 46% increase in attendance from 2021. 

“The building served us well until it didn’t. Simply put, we outgrew it,” Hightower said. 

Sponsored

The museum isn’t discussing what will happen to the old space, which will remain closed while the staff moves to the new space. 

If you go

The Arlington Museum of Art will open two exhibitions, “Pompeii: The Immortal City” and “One Point Five Degrees,” on March 30 to celebrate the new space.

Location: 1200 Ballpark Way, Arlington 

Tickets will officially go on sale Jan. 11.

Visit here for more details.

Having the museum in the Entertainment District allows artists more opportunities to showcase their work in a much larger space — 48,000 square feet — Schultz said. The downtown Arlington location was a repurposed store built in the ’50s with about 5,500 square feet of exhibition space.  

“While we’re sad to leave our home since the late 1980s, we’re excited to use what we’ve learned to better the city and its arts and culture community from our new home, one that we hope will see us into the next 80 (or more) years,” director of exhibitions Kendall Quirk said. 

The memories remain

Last summer, Schultz saw a family of six engrossed in a conversation as they looked at the original pencil sketches from Disney artists at the museum’s exhibition. She didn’t eavesdrop, but Schultz could tell the art had sparked something meaningful for the family. 

The experience reminded Schultz of her childhood. That’s just one of the memories she will carry with her into the new space. The museum didn’t host a big event to close out the current building other than a monthlong exhibition of the museum’s history last April for community members to reminisce about the old space. 

That feels right to Schultz. It’s not so much about the four walls of the building but more about the relationships that she said she will treasure no matter what. 

So, the stories stay with her. The memories do, too. And the lifelong connections also will remain. 

The museum is just moving to a bigger location now, so everybody can have bigger dreams. 

Dang Le is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at dang.le@fortworthreport.org or via @DangHLe. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

Recent Comments