FORT WORTH -- The Fort Worth Stock Show will include its closest neighbors, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame, as part of its grounds early next year.
The change, in the works for close to a year at the urging of Stock Show President Brad Barnes, will mean that a person who buys a Stock Show ticket can visit the two museums the same day at no additional charge. And members of the two museums will gain free access to the Stock Show during its entire 23-day run.
"We'll be able to offer the Stock Show visitor a lot more value for their dollar," Barnes said. "We're very excited about this."
It didn't take long for the presidents and boards of the two museums to agree to Barnes' proposal.
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Attendance at all of the Cultural District's museums suffers annually during the Stock Show, in part because parking is limited but also because Stock Show visitors rarely explore outside the barns and arenas.
Giving them a no-cost option to stroll through the cowgirl and the science and history museum could have a significant impact, they said.
"We've had eight years of being open and not having any success in being part of the Stock Show visitor experience," said Pat Riley, executive director of the cowgirl museum. "This opportunity is invaluable to us."
Van A. Romans, president of the science and history museum, credited Barnes with pushing the idea.
"He wanted this to happen," Romans said. "I'm glad he did because it's a very natural thing to happen."
Barnes was originally motivated to make the change for aesthetic reasons. He did not like the barriers close to the intersection of Burnett-Tandy Drive and Gendy Street, which he said tarnished the visual experience for pedestrians as they walked through the Stock Show grounds.
He wanted to move the barriers farther out and bring the museums inside the grounds, he said. He's also upgrading the temporary fencing to a more decorative style, he said.
"It was just not attractive from a patron's perspective," he said. "Now we'll have these great museums anchoring that end of Burnett-Tandy Drive."
But there was a financial motive too, he said.
"We're always looking for ways to add value to people's dollar," he said. "It's also a goal to have so much to do out here that people will come several days."
An adult Stock Show ticket this year costs $10, and a child's ticket is $5 for those over 5. A family of four might spend $30 on Stock Show tickets but then be able to go into both museums as well.
The museums will not be selling any gallery tickets, so they will be sacrificing some revenue. (The science and history museum's Omni Theater and Noble Planetarium will still charge admission, however.)
But there is a larger upside for the museums, they said, through potential sales in the museum stores, cafe and theater. The museums can also use the benefit to help sell and renew memberships.
"It will be a learning experience, and there is no way of knowing what will result from this," said Carl Hamm, senior vice president for development at the museum of science and history. "But for us to have the opportunity to have tens of thousands of people come through here is the main reason we're doing it. We want to engage people in museums. That's our mission."
Chris Vaughn, 817-390-7547