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Dallas   Cowboys Stadium VerticalCowboys Stadium, the site of Super Bowl XLV on Sunday, presents wonders at a previously unheard-of scale: Costing $1.1 billion to build in June 2009, the stadium is the NFL’s most expensive to date and has the world’s largest dome and the biggest high-definition video display.

Yet fans who visit the stadium 20 miles west of Dallas will also notice a Texas-size art program, big in the number of pieces as well as artist reputation. Steel sculptures dangle above entranceways; intricate murals line stairwells; and vivid, geometric plaques swoop above concession-stand signs – part of 19 site-specific art installations spread throughout the 73-acre arena. This is probably the country’s only sports stadium where the art is basis for a $30 tour offered on nongame days.


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Injecting art into a sports stadium has been done before, but the sheer scale of the Cowboys program is something new. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his wife, Gene, are major collectors who instigated the project, which now includes works by multimedia artist Doug Aitken and Olafur Eliasson, famed for his 2008 New York City Waterfalls installation. Conceptual artist Mel Bochner seems to poke good-natured fun at football with Win!, a painting with such text as “Clobber! Drub! Rout! Trounce! Whip ‘Em! Whomp ‘Em!”


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“Public art is something you can come up to without the filters that you have in an art museum,” says Charles Wylie, a Dallas Museum of Art curator who helped select the program’s offerings. Wylie’s museum is running a concurrent exhibition, “Big New Field: Artists in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program,” through February 20.

To round out an art-themed visit to Dallas, check into The Joule, a vibrant downtown hotel that claims its own $22 million collection of works ranging from the provocative (Andy Warhol’s grim Electric Chair) to the soothing (Ellsworth Kelly’s crisp Blue Black Red Green).

From the Winter 2010/2011 issue of Smart Luxury Travel by ShermansTravel.com.

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