Texas Day by Day
On this day in Texas history…
Dallas museum trustees issue statement in "red art" controversy
December 7th, 1955
On this day in 1955, the board of trustees of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts issued a statement that they would "exhibit and acquire works of art only on the basis of their merit as works of art." The statement was a reaction to the so-called "red art" controversy, which reflected the city's generally conservative cultural climate. In March 1955 the Public Affairs Luncheon Club, a local women's group, charged the museum and its director, Jerry Bywaters, with exhibiting the work of artists with communist affiliations and neglecting the work of Dallas artists. The museum temporarily removed works by Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, and other ideologically suspect artists from display, but the trustees' statement and the support of the Dallas Morning News helped quell the controversy. The "red art" flap also led to the founding of the short-lived Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts as a venue for contemporary art free from political pressures. The DMCA opened in 1957, though real estate costs and competition with an older, more established museum drained the museum's resources, and in 1962 the board sought a merger with the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. In April 1963 the boards of both museums voted to merge the two institutions under the name Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. The name was changed to the Dallas Museum of Art in 1984.