CLICK HERE to see the current exhibition schedule
Our State Fair: 135 Years of the State Fair of Texas
Sept. 24 – Oct. 17, 2021
OUR STATE FAIR: 135 YEARS OF THE STATE FAIR OF TEXAS explores 135 years of State Fair history in Fair Park, tracing back to its origins as the Dallas State Fair and Exposition in 1886. Fair Park is home to one of the greatest concentrations of early 20th century Art Deco exhibit buildings in the world, built specifically for the Texas Centennial Exposition and World’s Fair of 1936. Over the years the State Fair has served as a destination for entertainment, amusements, food, and fun. The exhibit features an extensive display of photographs and artifacts from the State Fair’s archive and the Dallas Historical Society’s collection. Come see a visual history of the last 135 years, from posters, vintage midway games, rides and even Big Tex himself!
TEXAS’ FIRST RADIO STATION:
WRR RADIO CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
Sep. 22 – Nov. 15, 2020
WRR was the first licensed broadcast station in Texas and one of the nation’s five inaugural stations. Operated by the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, WRR is an integral component of the City of Dallas’ commitment to providing access to arts opportunities to its residents, as well as to the nearly eight million residents of North Texas. WRR was the brainchild of inventor Henry Garrett, a Police and Fire Signal Superintendent for the City of Dallas, who envisioned radio as the modern way for firefighters in the field to communicate.
Today, WRR is the only commercial classical music format radio station in Texas and is the oldest same-owner station in the U.S. With a tower in Cedar Hill, the 100,000 watt station’s listening area spans 100 miles in any direction. WRR continues to build on its legacy of innovation and firsts and is attracting a new breed of internet listeners via streaming at wrr101.com.
Women’s Suffrage in Texas
The Fight for Voting Rights in the Lone Star State
A special online exhibit | August 2020
Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote with our new online exhibit. Texas was the ninth state in the U.S. and the first state in the South to ratify the amendment. By August 18, 1920, 36 states (including Texas) had approved the amendment and it became part of the United States Constitution. This exhibit focuses on the suffrage movement in Dallas, Texas – on a local, state and national level.
Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom
A special online exhibit | June 2020
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops present to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.
Caring For Dallas: A History of Our Hospitals
A special online exhibit | May 2020
In the early nineteenth century, most Americans gave birth and endured illness and even surgery at home. They belonged to a largely rural society, and few would ever have occasion to visit a hospital. Hospitals in the United States emerged from institutions, notably almshouses, that provided care and custody for the poor. Thus, rooted in the tradition of charity, the public hospital traces its ancestry to the development of cities and community efforts to shelter and care for the chronically ill, deprived, and disabled. Though modest in their origins, public hospitals have grown into multifaceted municipal institutions. This online exhibit tells the history of hospitals and caring for the sick in Dallas.
Polly Smith: Images of Texas
A special online exhibit | April 2020
In 1935, Texas was preparing for its biggest celebration to date: a world’s fair to commemorate the centennial of its independence from Mexico. Centennial officials eager to publicize the event needed an abundance of photographic images that would put the state in the best possible light. They hired a young photographer, Polly Smith, who had recently returned from studying in New York, to travel the length and width of the state. Her mission was to capture the people and places that made Texas unique. The body of her work from that laborious journey is held in the Dallas Historical Archives and is the basis for this online exhibit.
September 27 – October 20, 2019
Produced in partnership by the State Fair of Texas and the Dallas Historical Society, Texas Cinema focuses on the history and impact of film performers and creators from the Lone Star State as well as the depiction of Texas through film. Incorporating a substantial amount of video and other media elements, the Great Hall will come alive with interactive opportunities and valuable historical artifacts. Through a partnership with the Dallas Film Society, the Hall of State’s Hill Auditorium will feature screenings all day. Experience Texas Cinema at the Hall of State.
A Shared Border
The diverse cultural landscape of the Texas and Mexico borderland has caused different cultures to blend and innovate. From food and music to festivals and finance, the shared cultures of Texas and Mexico have helped shape the day-to-day lives of our two countries and the world.
Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom
June 17 – 23, 2019 Special Display
On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger stood at Galveston Bay and pronounced that all African American slaves living in Texas were free. Because of the war, no one in Texas had heard word of Abraham Lincoln’s famous Emancipation Proclamation, the law he signed abolishing slavery in America. In 1979, the day was declared an official state holiday. Items on display will include the only known original copy of the General Order No. 3.
Historic American Pop
Mar. 21 – Apr. 14, 2019
A collaborated historical perspective of abstract art with the words of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt
by Laura Roosevelt
great-granddaughter of Eleanor and Franklin.
Battle of San Jacinto
Apr. 15 – 21, 2019
The Battle of San Jacinto was fought on April 21, 1836. The battle lasted less than an hour with the Texans under General Sam Houston defeating the army of General Santa Anna. This decisive battle led to Texas independence from Mexico. On display will be rare items including Sam Houston’s handwritten report of the Battle of San Jacinto and Santa Anna’s spurs.
Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!
Mar. 5-17, 2019
The exhibit focuses on the conflict for Texas’ freedom. The Alamo; a Spanish mission, a Mexican fortress and the Shrine of Texas Liberty. On March 6, 1836 General Santa Anna’s forces overtook the Alamo, slaying all 200 Texans defending its walls. The Goliad Campaign of 1836 ended with the resulting Goliad Massacre. Unique artifacts, including Davey Crockett’s pistol from the Alamo and Fannin’s watch from Goliad will be on display.
Dallas in the Time of MLK
Jan. 2018 – Mar. 2019
The Civil Rights Movement was a defining moment in the United States. During the 1960s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made two important visits to speak in Dallas. The exhibit focuses on King’s 1963 speech in Fair Park and his 1966 speech at Southern Methodist University. Additionally, we look at a number of Dallas civil rights leaders who were active during this critical decade as Dallas transitioned away from being a segregated city.
Celebrating Texas Innovation
Sept. 28, 2018 – Oct. 21, 2018
From America’s first drive-in restaurant, stadium nachos, iconic corn chips, the frozen margarita machine, handheld calculators, to even corny dogs, several of the world’s favorite creations were introduced right here in the Lone Star State. Texas continues to be a state of innovation delivering groundbreaking inventions, technological advancements, and scientific milestones. Commemorating the significant Texans and Texas innovations that have helped influence our current way of life and looking forward to the state’s next era of pioneers, the Dallas Historical Society and the State Fair of Texas are proud to introduce its 2018 theme of for this year’s State Fair exhibit “Celebrating Texas Innovation.”
The War on Two Fronts:
Texas heroes of the First World War
Nov. 4, 2017 – Sept. 1, 2018
African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Women all served honorably in the armed forces and at home during WWI. While they all had to fight for the right to serve their country, a contested struggle was also going on at home for their equality. Whether it was for equal rights, the right to vote, or to even be American citizens their cause for justice and freedom under the law was a long and difficult one. The War on Two Fronts looks at a few of the many Texans who persevered under the most trying of circumstances.
“We beg of you, to give us the right to fight. We guarantee to you, sir, our hearts could be for no better cause than to fight for the land we love, and for the freedom we share.”
Chief Red Fox to Secretary of War Newton D. Baker 1917.
Coming to America Through Galveston Island
Nov. 4, 2017 – Jan. 2, 2018
As a major gateway for immigration, Galveston Island was the port of entry for hundreds of thousands of people coming to America from 1845 to 1924. Forgotten Gateway considers the importance of place in the immigrant experience—tracing the history of Galveston Island as it changed from a small harborage for sailing vessels, to a major cosmopolitan steamship and railroad hub, and back to a nearly abandoned immigrant station—and explores universal themes of immigration including leaving home, encountering danger, confronting discrimination, and navigating bureaucracy.
Citizens at Last:
The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas
Nov., 2017 – Jan. 2, 2018
Based on the book Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas and on an earlier exhibition of the same name by the Woman’s Collection at Texas Woman’s University Library, the exhibition uses archival photographs, newspaper clippings, cartoons, cards and texts to illustrate the struggle for woman suffrage in Texas. Exhibition produced by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, “Citizens at Last” is made possibly in part by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Texas in the First World War
Sept. 29 – Oct. 22, 2017
An exhibit to commemorate the 100th anniversary of US and Texas entry into WWI. The exhibit will draw on numerous private and museum collections. The exhibit will be held in the Great Hall, the Hall of Heroes, and the Margaret and Al Hill Lecture Hall/Auditorium.
The Editorial Art of John Knott
Jun. 5 – Oct. 22, 2017
John Knott worked for the Dallas Morning News from 1905 until his retirement in 1957. During this time his artwork amassed to over 15,000 pieces. The archives of the DHS holds more than one third of this body of work. His most famous character “Old Man Texas”, was devised in 1906 to symbolize rural Texas, honesty in government, low taxes, and property ownership. His work was reprinted in many major American newspapers over the years. His work encompasses every possible aspect of the public’s interest from the humorous to the social conscience of the state and nation. The exhibit presents his work on many topics that are still of direct interest to a modern audience.
Texas Under Six Flags
Nov. 1, 2016 – Sept. 1, 2017
The exhibit will tell the story of the countries whose flags flew over Texas, the Kingdom of France (1685-1763), the Kingdom of Spain (1519-1821), the Mexican Federal Republic (1821-1836), the Republic of Texas (1836-1845), the Confederate States of America (1861-1865), and the United States of America (1846).. On display will be rare artifacts from each country focusing on the time period that country claimed Texas as their own.
Polly Smith: A Texas Journey
Feb. 1 – May 27, 2017
In 1936 Polly Smith, a 27-year-old photographer undertook her first professional assignment, to photographically record the entire state of Texas. She crisscrossed the state by air, rail, and car to illustrate all of Texas for America. Her work was presented at the 1936 Centennial Exhibition and is a permanent part of the Hall of State. The body of her work from that laborious journey is held in the Dallas Historical Archives and is the basis for this exhibit.
The Taylor Swift Experience
Sept. 30, 2016 – Oct. 23, 2016
After a history-making run at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, The Taylor Swift Experience™ is making its way to the Lone Star State with a brand new collection of memorabilia from the superstar’s archive as a featured exhibit at the State Fair of Texas. The famed exhibit takes fans through her journey as a singer, songwriter and global superstar, showcasing memorable performance costumes, tour photos, and instruments. The exhibit also features a special collection of memorabilia that has never been displayed in this unique combination before, such as the light blue Reem Acra gown she wore at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas during the ACM Awards 50th Anniversary. The Fair is thrilled to host this one-of-a-kind exhibit in the historic Hall of State building, with the excitement of providing an attraction that appeals to all ages. Diehard fans are sure to recognize some of Taylor’s trademark wardrobe pieces, from the rhinestone-studded ringmaster ensemble she wore for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” on The RED Tour, to the custom-beaded outfit she wore at the 2014 American Music Awards when she premiered “Blank Space.” Regardless of age or musical preference, visitors will gain a better understanding of Taylor’s achievements that led her to super-stardom and her impact on the entertainment industry worldwide. During the run of the exhibit the film “Taylor Swift: In Her Own Words” will be playing in the Margaret and Al Hill Lecture Hall.
This exhibit is free to the public, however State Fair admission and parking fees are required to enter Fair Park where the Hall of State is located.
Ways of the West
Dec. 15, 2015 – Oct. 23, 2016
A hands on exhibit for children and adults alike that explains the day to day life of Texas’ western heritage through hands on activities and displays.
Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy
Apr. 16 – Oct. 23, 2016
In the early 1970’s, noted Texas historian Joe Frantz offered Bill Wittliff a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a ranch in northern Mexico where the vaqueros still worked cattle in traditional ways. Wittliff photographed the vaqueros as they went about these daily chores that had changed little since the first Mexican cowherders learned to work cattle from a horse’s back.
Texas Our Texas
Mar. 5, 2016
The exhibit features special collections from the holdings of the Dallas Historical Society dating to the Texas Revolution for independence. This special one day exhibit at the Scottish Rite cathedral and library of Dallas is in conjunction with the speaker on the history of the Battle of the Alamo.
The Dust Bowl
Nov. 9, 2015 – Mar. 20, 2016
Heavy black clouds of dust rising over the Texas Panhandle, March 1936, LC-DIG-fsa-8b27276 (digital file from original negative). Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
Striking at the depth of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl blasted the hopes and hard work of people in the Great Plains. For those who lived through it, the experience was unmatched as an example of ecological calamity and a test of personal will. The Dust Bowl can bridge the gap between generations and promote understanding of the pioneering will to prevail in the face of immutable laws of nature.
City of Dallas Founders Day
Nov. 7 – 15, 2015
Exhibit features items from the DHS collection that belonged to John Neely Bryan (1810– 1877). In November of 1841, Bryan settled on the east bank of the Trinity River, not far from the present location of downtown, and founded Dallas.
Big Texas Music
Sept. 25 – Oct. 18
Texas music is celebrated not only here in our great state, but all across the country. “Big Texas Music,” honoring well-known Texas artists through memorabilia, audiovisual displays and social interactives, as well as daily live music performances from a wide variety of artists. The exhibit features both artists who were born in Texas and those who have lived here and consider themselves natives. Spanning numerous decades, “Big Texas Music” showcases famous Texas musicians from every genre, celebrating the diverse range of talent hailing from the Lone Star State. Check out “Big Texas Music” daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Hall of State. Entrance to this exhibit is FREE with State Fair admission.
Behold the People:
R. C. Hickman’s Photographs of Black Dallas, 1949–1961
June 19, 2015 – Aug. 15, 2015
R. C. Hickman was a Dallas photographer whose thousands of images produced from 1949 to 1961 document life in an African American community in Texas. His photographs depict a community largely invisible to white Americans—thoroughly a part of mainstream America by virtue of accomplishment and lifestyle but excluded from it because of race. His images reveal his awareness of the broad community context within which individuals survive, grow, and understand themselves.
Photo Credit: Colored waiting room, 1952. R. C. Hickman Photographic Archive (DI00964), The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin
An Argument for Dallas
100 Years of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas 1914–2014
Dec. 19, 2014 – Jun. 5, 2015
Learn about the arguments that civic leaders made on behalf of Dallas as they sought to win a reserve bank for the city. Examine the history of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and learn about the Bank’s service to the Eleventh District and to the American people.
Cinco de Mayo
Ma 5 – 25, 2015
Rarely seen items from the DHS collection will be on display in the Great Hall to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Items on exhibition will incorporate several Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo artifacts dating from 1720-1840 including an iron crucifix and lamps, door lock with key, wooden crucifix, Spanish made pistol, images of the church and rose window.
The Story of Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker
Nov. 3, 2014 – Jan.15, 2015
Comanche Nation: The Story of Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker is a traveling exhibit of rarely seen photos of Quanah and Cynthia Ann Parker. Cynthia Ann and Quanah Parker are two important names in U.S. frontier history. Much can be learned from the dramatic story of these two courageous individuals. In 1836, a Comanche raiding party took Cynthia Ann from her family. Over the following years, she became wife to a Comanche chief and mother to children, including Quanah. After Cynthia Ann was taken back by Texas Rangers, Quanah became one of the most important Comanche leaders both in war and peace.
Texas Sports Legends
Sept. 26 – Oct. 19, 2014
The State Fair of Texas and the Dallas Historical Society, in cooperation with the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, present a new exhibit honoring a selection of individuals who have contributed to athletic history in Texas, titled “Texas Sports Legends.” The exhibit will be open daily during this year’s State Fair of Texas, September 26 through October 19.
“Whether they grew up here or became a member of a Texas-based team later in life, there are many legends to be honored who have contributed to Texas athletics,” said State Fair of Texas President, Mitchell Glieber. “We know that we cannot honor them all, but we thank the Texas Sports Hall of Fame for loaning us a selection of sports memorabilia for fairgoers to enjoy during this year’s Fair, themed “Deep in the Heart of Texans”.”
A selection of the inductees from the Texas Sports Hall of Fame who will be highlighted in this exhibit include: auto racing legends – A.J. Foyt and Johnny Rutherford; baseball legends – Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan; basketball legends – Rolando Blackman and Clyde Drexler; boxing legend – George Foreman; football legends – Joe Green, Tom Landry, and Doak Walker; golf legends – Ben Crenshaw and Lee Trevino; hockey legend – Mike Modano; rodeo legend – Don Gay; soccer legends – Mia Hamm and Kyle Rote, Jr.; swimming legend – Eddie Reese; tennis legend – Zina Garrison; and track and field legends – Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson