Sistine Chapel image via Wikimedia. Photography by Jason Janik and Catherine Downes. Illustration by Alex Macon.

State Fair of Texas

What Do Big Tex, Michelangelo, and Taylor Swift Have in Common?

Which new State Fair attraction is stranger? The simulation of the Sistine Chapel or the Taylor Swift Experience?

The State Fair of Texas has been around for 130 years, and some things haven’t changed in decades. You can still watch piglets in silk race three times a day, eat anything the great culinary minds of Texas throw into a deep fryer, and check out sculptors’ transformations of obscene amounts of butter into anything from farm scenes to the Blues Brothers.

However, the fair has several new exhibits this year, including two that look at some of the world’s greatest artistic achievements: the Sistine Chapel and Taylor Swift.

“Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel — The Exhibition” is making its American debut at the Women’s Museum, where 34 photographic panels standing 16 feet tall will fill the room, giving visitors the opportunity to see individual scenes right before their eyes. In fact, The Last Judgement will be prominently featured, measuring in at an impressive 40×41. Tickets will be $8 for fair attendees, and the exhibit is free for children 6 and under.

Swiss Army guards are standing by. The only thing that could make the experience more authentic is if they yell at you in Italian when you try to take pictures.

taylor swift

Fast forward to 2006. Then-ringleted T-Swift started taking the country-pop world by storm, and we can’t say we were ever the same. Since then, her hair, style, and music have gone through many metamorphoses, several of which are on display at “The Taylor Swift Experience.” The original handwritten lyrics to the infectious “22” and other Swift classics are on display. Banjoes and guitars galore, and several tour and red carpet outfits are part of The Experience, which will be housed in the Hall of State.

The fair promises an even more unique collection of memorabilia than its original debut at the Grammy Museum on Swift’s 24th birthday. Maybe there will be a partial (or completed?!) version of a Calvin Harris-inspired track?

Other displays in the Women’s Museum and Hall of State will center on the themes “A Celebration of Cultures” (presented by Mundo Latino) and Texas history, respectively. Regardless of your personal level of education on either High Renaissance art or the music of our times, these two exhibitions are bringing Rome and Nashville to Big Tex territory. Round out your trip by sampling some other new additions, like the Hungarian acrobatic basketball troupe Lords of Gravity and—thank you Mark Cuban—edible soda cups.

The State Fair of Texas begins Sept. 30.

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