Visual Art

An Adventure through the DMA's Secret Underground Art Storage, Home to 20,000 Treasured Oddities

The room we're in looks like a bigger version of a high school art studio. There are sculptures clothed in plastic wrap, rows of Grecian urns, a worktable where staff was assembling mounts for a buffalo mask, a 3D printed lamp and ancient Roman jewelry.

A lot of Jesus paintings are staring at us.

The Dallas Museum of Art has between 23,000 and 24,000 pieces in its collection, which is sizable, but not huge. At any given time 10 percent of those pieces are on display in the museum. The other 90 percent are in art storage, the mostly underground floors of the museum that we're in now.

I admit I was expecting something adventurous and romantic, like the closing scene in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, with miles of hay-filled crates and maybe some pale Morlocks hauling statuary.

"Hay is actually pretty bad for preservation," Anne Lenhart, a registrar at the DMA tells me. She's been at the museum for nine years working with museum's permanent collection, and this evening she's our Virgil through the innards of the DMA.

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Luke Darby
Contact: Luke Darby

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