Art Room in the Carnegie Library - Dallas Public Library, photographed by Clifton Church, circa 1901. From the Dallas Public Library Archive Collection, Dallas Public Library.

Dallas History

Tales From the Dallas History Archives: Art Has Always Been Part of the City

The Dallas Public Library has photos of sculptors, painters, and an early glimpse at what helped form the Dallas Museum of Art.

Art and artists have always been part of the Dallas landscape, and the Dallas Public Library photograph collections have examples of how cultural offerings helped shape the city. The following photographs are some of the images of the arts I have encountered in the Dallas Public Library’s Dallas History and Archives Collection and are available through the library’s online catalog.

The late Dmitri Vail shows his paintings and photographs in 1952. Expatriate German artist George Grosz visited Dallas to create a series called “Impressions of Dallas” on behalf of Leon Harris, Jr., vice president of the A. Harris and Company department store. Sculptor Horace Foxall and his works are depicted as part of the Marion Butts collection, as well. The Dallas Public Library’s historic connection to Dallas art is represented by photographs such as the Art Room of the original 1901 Carnegie Library, the contents of which later helped form the Dallas Museum of Art.

Classroom art instruction, art competitions, and influential artists like Everett Spruce and Ruth Uhler are among these historic photographs. Prominent public sculptures occupy other photographs. Take a look in the gallery below.

(Brandon Murray, a librarian and archivist in the Dallas Public Library’s Dallas History & Archives Division, writes about North Texas history for D Magazine. See more of this series here.

The archival collections of Dallas Public Library have many more photographs of the arts in Dallas. You can learn more by searching online in the catalog. Go to “Advanced” and use the “Limit By” option to select “Digital Archive” then type in your topic.)

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