Alas, the Meadows was not alone in its folly. The runner-up for worst show goes to European Masterworks: The Foundation for the Arts Collection at the DMA. As I have often pointed out, the DMA's misfortunes are myriad, and too many of its wounds are, like this show, self-inflicted, until it has come to the point where it's (almost) no fun to beat up on the Dallas Museum of Art. The immediate cause of this fiasco was, again, a threadbare exhibition schedule. The PR op was actually next year, 2003 being the hundred-year anniversary of the city's first foray into cultural improvement, the founding of a ladies' club that bought a few wretched canvases. Somebody, somewhere decided that these misfortunes presented an opportunity, to wit: a show highlighting the museum's greatest weakness, its permanent collection of 18th- and 19th-century art. The result, European Masterworks, revealed much about the holes in the museum's collection and its institutional inability to recognize and confront reality.
In between these highs and lows were more than a few worthy shows. Honorable mention must go to the Kimbell Art Museum, for its shows of the work of Piet Mondrian and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. And the DMA redeemed itself--somewhat--with its Thomas Struthshow, an exhibition that was overrated but worthwhile nonetheless. Ditto the DMA's show of the Smithsonian's 18th-, 19th- and early 20th-century American holdings, titled The Gilded Age: Treasures From the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Although the show offered little in the way of curatorial or scholarly effort, it did feature the DMA functioning more as a museum than as a cog in the art world's promotional wheel. And that, for a change, is 100 percent good.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is a remarkable piece of public sculpture.