I visited the Kimbell Art Museum for one specific exhibit—"Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World, 1690-1850." Though I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in this genre, I found this to be a really well-rounded collection and aesthetically beautiful; there was just enough to expand my knowledge and enjoy my time there without feeling overwhelmed.
"Drama and Desire" was the first exhibition to highlight this large a collection of Japanese ukiyo-e paintings. The works came from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and include 67 masterpieces by renowned artists like Hokusai, Utamaro, and Harunobu. The "floating world" refers to the pleasure quarters of Edo (today called Tokyo), which were frequented by actors, courtesans, rich patrons, and bohemians.
The paintings in this exhibit depicted everything from elegant interiors with beautifully dressed courtesans to expressive portraits of Kabuki actors to the activities and occupants of the pleasure quarters, as well as contemporary life in Edo. I found the works stunning. The bright colors, intricate detail and true depictions of life made me feel as though I was being told the courtesan’s story from her mouth, or even as though I could jump right into a scene without skipping a beat.
A full overview of the exhibit can be found here. (Please visit to see pictures of the works since photography wasn’t allowed inside!)
Admission prices for this exhibition were $9 for adults, $7 for seniors age 60 and over and students with ID, and $5 for children between six and eleven. Children under six were free, as were museum members. An audio tour was included in the ticket price. From what I could tell, many of the other special exhibits were comparable in price.
A bit of general information about the Kimbell Art Museum:
When you approach the museum, you can’t help but notice its industrial look, and while it may not be my cup of tea (lots of concrete and a lack of any ornamentation), architect Louis I. Kahn won an award from the American Institute of Architects for the design. Aside from the Japanese exhibit I viewed, artwork here comes from all over the world, from ancient times to present day, with such masters as Renoir, Picasso, Rubens and Rembrandt.
Admission is free to the museum's permanent collection (!!)
The museum has a "Buffet Restaurant", which is open daily for lunch all week, and for dinner on Fridays, with snacks and beverages following lunch daily. I suggest the huge, gooey brownies.
There is a great main gift shop and there was a smaller one specifically for the "Drama and Desire" exhibit.