9. Dallas Museum of Art
- Hosts late-night family activities, from 6 p.m. to midnight on the third Friday of every month, featuring films, performances in the galleries, and bedtime stories read by a professional storyteller accompanied by the museum's mascot, Arturo
- Offers "Passports Around the World," a program held on select weekends during the year, in which children are given small blue passports and a list of objects to find in the permanent collections; when children locate an object, a docent stamps their passports with the object's country of origin
- Sponsors the "Go Van Gogh" outreach program, which visits elementary schools around Dallas during the school year, presenting hourlong interactive slide programs and art activities; students receive a pass for free admission to the museum for their families
The Dallas Museum of Art has, as deputy director Bonnie Pitman says, "taken this pre-Columbian pot and run with it." The "pot" is a Peruvian vessel from the museum's Ancient Art of the Americas collection that's shaped like a parrot. From it was born Arturo, a colorful parrot that, true to his breed, makes his presence known.
The lovable mascot narrates a portion of the DMA's free family audio tours (there are two designed for 5- to 8-year-olds, one for 9- to 12-year-olds). Family members each get a hand-held audio device so they can hear and talk to one another. And on special days, Arturo leads families through the collections. "At one time, we had an Anselm Kiefer landscape encrusted with sunflower seeds," explains Pitman. "Arturo always pointed it out, saying he'd love to eat it!" On late nights, Arturo (with a professional instructor) even leads a yoga class for kids in the gallery. Afterward, the children head upstairs to view some of the DMA's Hindu art "so they make the connection," says Pitman. "We do something similar where we have a young child teach other children Hindu dancing in front of our Shiva Nataraja, a bronze sculpture of the Hindu god Shiva, lord of the dance. For us, it's all about making the connections. We're aiming to create a lifelong engagement with art."