Artful renovations

2 major Fort Worth museums pretty up their buildings with extreme makeovers

2 major Fort Worth museums pretty up buildings with extreme makeovers

Amon Carter Museum of American Art
The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is getting a major renovation. Photo courtesy of Amon Carter Museum of American Art
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
"Hitting the Mark: Cowgirls and Wild West Shows" gallery remains open at the National Cowgirl Museum. Photo courtesy of National Cowgirl Museum
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

Two of Fort Worth's premier Cultural District museums are undergoing extensive nips, tucks, and enhancements that are expected to last into next year.

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art has started a building improvement project that will affect areas from the main entrance to the storage vault. And, just down the street, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is in the midst of a major renovation to its entire second floor.

Here's a closer look at what's being done and how it will affect hordes of field-trip students museum-goers in coming months.

Amon Carter Museum
Currently, a new climate-controlled storage vault for the museum’s massive photo collection is being constructed. The Carter, a major repository of American photography, houses over 45,000 prints. The preservation project is scheduled to be completed this fall and will nearly double the size of the museum’s photo vault.

But the bigger, more public overhauls will begin in October.

Renovations to the museum’s second-floor galleries will aim to provide an improved setting — in a new layout — for both the Carter's art collection and the many temporary exhibitions presented by the museum. 

Following the second-floor enhancements, in spring-summer 2019, work will begin "to continue the new visitor experience and layout in the museum’s 1961 building," the museum says in a release. These include improved access points on the plaza and the museum's main entrance.

"During the renovation, visitors can enjoy a rare opportunity to see many beloved highlights of the collection on display throughout the museum’s original main galleries in Philip Johnson’s 1961 building," the museum says in a release.

Representatives of the museum will take art and experiences out of the building and into the community, they say, but at no time will the museum close entirely.

"Various areas of the museum will not be accessible during certain portions of the renovation, but the museum will not be closed at any point during this renovation period," a Carter spokeswoman says. 

Cowgirl Museum
In February, the museum dedicated to honoring women of the American West unveiled plans for a $5.5 million renovation of its second floor. That entire floor is closed now through spring, as all artifacts had to be removed and conditioned, walls had to come down, and the entire second floor had to be gutted and rebuilt.

"Renovations are moving along as planned," a museum spokeswoman says. "We will be reopening the second floor in March 2019."

When it reopens, the second floor will be called the Kit Moncrief Galleries in honor of board president Kit Moncrief, and in recognition of a generous gift given in her name, the museum says. Projectiles, an international architect team based in Paris, France, is designing the new galleries. 

Practically the entire floor will be dedicated to a new exhibition called "It’s Never Just a Horse," which will "pay homage to the undeniable link among the horse, women, and the West," the museum says on its website. Visitors can expect five thematic “islands” examining partnerships of women and horses, with interactive ports to research additional information. Objects will be displayed around the islands, "and — from time to time — the gallery lights will dim and visitors will be surrounded by horses coming from every direction, seemingly entering the gallery space with them," the museum says. The Cowgirl’s popular, interactive bronc ride will be back, too.

The Cowgirl spokeswoman says a grand-reopening will take place in March. But, to promote the new exhibition, the museum will host an event called "Neigh at the Museum" from 10 am-2 pm September 15. Here, visitors will be able to display pictures of themselves and their horses.

While the Cowgirl closed for a week in July, museum officials expect the first floor to remain open to visitors — at discounted admission — until renovations are complete. Private events are being scheduled, but school tours are not being conducted.