art_02 photography by Alex Ham

The gently sloping ramp leading to Muzeion’s recessed façade is meant to slow you down. By the time you reach the top, the surrounding storefronts are a distant memory. Step inside, and the burbling fountain and gossamer scrims add to the “we’re not in Kansas anymore” vibe.

When Guillermo Cardenas created Muzeion, he wanted visitors to feel totally transported, as if they’d entered a sanctuary. Pre-Columbian textiles, Han Dynasty figures, paintings by modern Mexican artists, rare jewels, and an ancient tribal neckpiece made of thousands of hummingbird feathers are among the treasures he displays.

That Cardenas eschewed the ubiquitous “white box” gallery in favor of an environment as artful as the works it houses underscores his commitment to enhancing his adopted city’s creative culture.

After shuttering his galleries in Paris and his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, Cardenas considered Manhattan, Chicago, and Los Angeles as possible locations for his collection of wonders. But during a trip to Dallas last year, he was struck by the city’s creative energy. On a drive one evening, the die-hard Santiago Calatrava fan spotted Calatrava’s in-progress Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. That sealed the deal.

“I saw that bridge and was blown away. I knew the search was over,” Cardenas says. “This is where it’s all happening, where people are making new things. This is where I had to be.”