A short walk from the Dallas Area Rapid Transit St. Paul Station lies the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas. Adjacent to the high-rise PricewaterhouseCoopers building, the museum welcomes you right away with gorgeous landscaping in the center of the city.
Outside the museum, visitors can climb stairs past dramatically arching water fountains that surround a statue of a deified Laozi. At the top of the stairs is a place to eat among potted flowers and fountains while looking at the skyscrapers of Dallas. The sides of the area reveal garden paths around the PricewaterhouseCoopers tower, heralded only by small stone lanterns.
The paths transport visitors into the museum’s own Asia. Stone sculptures from China and Indonesia dot the natural scenery of bamboo and stone.
This outdoor museum may not have many pieces in number, but their backdrop lends a mental authenticity to viewers. This setting also allows viewers to see some art more closely. Onlookers can see the giant roofed bell from Japan against the bamboo and rock, and easily feel as though they are on top of mountain during the Edo period. Viewers can even pull back the wooden rod from the bell and hear it ring to the people below.
Beyond the exterior portion of the museum, sliding glass doors reveal a calm interior of dark, warm-toned wood. The first floor’s low lighting gives a theatrical glow to a full samurai suit, swords and giant war paintings. When viewers are ready to ascend to the next floor of the museum, they realize that even the stairs are artwork. Instead of mundane overhead lights on cement stairs, soft lights under each dark wood step illuminate the step below, and the banisters imitate Chinese geometric latticework.
The second floor is brightly lit by the sun through the large windows. The floor isn’t large and the amount of artwork is far from extensive, but each piece of art is carefully chosen.
It becomes clear that each piece of art has an odd element, making it unique. One piece of art is an elephant tusk with an intricate pattern of birds carved in it. Another is a small Chinese statue of an immortal, carved out of a ghostly blue stone. The largest piece of art is literally the facade of a house.
At the end of the museum, however, viewers are left wanting. While each piece of art is stunning, there are too few of them for complete satisfaction.While the nearby Dallas Museum of Art has too many pieces of art to see in an average trip, the entire Crow Collection of Asian Art can be viewed in an hour or less.
The museum is worth every minute of time spent there, even if you simply stop to picnic among the fountains and bamboo outside.
For a University of Dallas student with limited access to transportation, however, a trip to the museum is best combined with other activities to feel completely worthwhile. Thankfully, the museum is in close proximity to plenty of Dallas attractions, and if viewing Asian art works up an appetite, Zenna Thai & Japanese Restaurant is a five-minute walk away.