In December 1998, the Crow Family opened the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art as a permanent museum at 2010 Flora Street in the Arts District of Dallas, Texas. Mr. and Mrs. Crow opened the free museum in an effort to share their love of Asian art and culture with the general public. The museum’s mission is to bridge the cultural gap between East and West. The Crows traveled extensively throughout the world, but Asia was always a favorite destination. “Our first visit to China came in 1976 right before Chairman Mao Zedong died,” Mrs. Crow said. “Very few foreigners were allowed inside China at that time, but we received permission because of Dallas Market Center’s involvement with the Canton Trade Fair.”
“Trammell always loved Chinese art – it fascinated him, especially jade,” Mrs. Crow said. “And I’ve always appreciated English décor, which has been influenced by the Chinese for centuries. So it was very easy for us to develop this partnership — this love for Asian Art.” Tight restrictions on Chinese exports prevented the Crows from making many direct buys of art during their 14 subsequent visits to the country. The majority of their collection has been obtained from individual purchases made through private dealers and auction houses and through the acquisition of major collections, such as the highly respected Morrie A. Moss collection.
Eventually, the Crow family retained Asian art expert, Clarence Shangraw to evaluate their collection. After extensive analysis by Shangraw, who was with the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco at that time, 569 of the best pieces were selected for inclusion in the Crow Collection’s permanent collection. Soon pieces from Japan, India and other Southeast Asian countries were added as the Crows expanded their travels. During this time, the couple’s children began to develop an interest in art. Son Trammell S. Crow was particularly attracted to Asian art. His interest was spurred while studying Chinese religion and history at Yale University. He now serves as president of the Crow Family Foundation and oversees the development of the Crow Collection.
Mrs. Crow said the art – which ranges from Chinese jades and Buddhist sculpture to Japanese crystal spheres and screen paintings – has been displayed extensively at different properties owned by the Crow family, including hotels and office buildings as well as in the many homes of the Crow family. A baradari, a gazebo used in gardens of Indian palaces and residences for relaxation and meditation, spent years on the lakeshore at the family’s farm in East Texas before its selection into the collection.
The Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas is home to many of the Crow family’s acquisitions including wall tapestries, elephant sculptures, and jade displayed in cabinets throughout the hotel. “Because the art was scattered between commercial buildings and our homes, we had little notion of what kind of a collection we had until pieces were gathered for the exhaustive selection process,” Mrs. Crow said.
The idea for the museum was a result of Mr. and Mrs. Crow’s desire to keep the collection intact as a legacy for their family as well as the general public. The interior of the Pavilion at the Trammell Crow Center was then redesigned and renovated to meet the special needs of a gallery displaying centuries-old art year-round. Today the Crow Collection of Asian Art is a set of permanent galleries dedicated to the arts and cultures of China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia. Shortly after it was opened in 1998, the Crow Collection of Asian Art was dubbed the Jewel Box of the Dallas Arts District.
The Crow Collection is one of only a handful of museums in this country dedicated solely to the arts of Asia. The museum not only houses the Crow’s permanent collection, it also has become a showcase for works of art from renowned collectors, other museums, and private institutions throughout the world. The museum also has hosted numerous community events, seminars, and workshops as well as children’s activities and cultural classes. Since it opened, close to a million people have visited the museum to view the exhibitions, participate in Tai Chi, yoga and meditation sessions, learn about Asian cultures or simply enjoy the many festivals and family day celebrations.