On the day I visited, artworks were just beginning to be pulled out for installation. Few experiences are quite as delightful as walking through a museum when paintings lie scattered throughout the galleries, unhung and in some cases still in their boxes. It reminded me that even great art is a human endeavor—an object somebody once made, not a miracle affixed to a wall. There was a gorgeous de Kooning double-nude, wrapped in protective plastic. There was a handsome black-and-white Robert Motherwell, leaning against the wall of the main atrium. There were Anselm Kiefers and a Lichtenstein, a Warhol, and an early Pollock, all waiting to take their places on the walls.
This is Cowtown in the 21st century: internationalist, confident, dignified. In fact, Fort Worth is no stranger to great architecture. Next door to the Modern is Louis Kahn's Kimbell, completed in 1972. And just down the road, the Amon Carter, built in 1961 by Philip Johnson (he returned 40 years later to add another wing). As it turns out, Ando's building couldn't have found a better home.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St.; 817/738-9215; www.themodern.org.
Fort Worth museums
Kimbell Art Museum One of the country's most extensive collections of European masters. A special exhibition, "Modigliani and the Artists of Montparnasse"—which includes some 60 of the Italian artist's paintings, sculptures, and works on paper—is on view February 9 through May 25. 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd.; 817/332-8451; www.kimbellart.org
Amon Carter Museum Known for its wide-ranging collection of American art. Through March 23 there is a retrospective on the work of Eliot Porter, who pioneered the use of color in landscape photography. 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd.; 817/738-1933; www.cartermuseum.org
National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame Newly opened, it's just a few blocks from the Modern, with vintage photographs, costumes, belts, buckles, and, of course, boots. 1720 Gendy St.; 817/336-4475; www.cowgirl.net
DON'T MISS To get a sense of why Fort Worth is called Cowtown, see the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo at the Will Rogers Memorial Center (3401 W. Lancaster Ave.; 817/871-8150), from January 11 through February 3.