Tyler Texas Arts, Culture & Learning

Located in the rolling hills of East Texas in Smith County mid-way between Dallas and Shreveport, Tyler has a wide range of appeal.

Tyler's lifestyle has the characteristics, feel, benefits and safety of a small town, but also has a cosmopolitan atmosphere with the advantages of a variety of arts and cultural activities.

The R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center

Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Texas at Tyler
Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center (TylerTexasOnline staff photo)

The renown R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of the University of Texas at Tyler, presents a variety of Broadway shows, plays and musicals.

Inside, the Jim and Bonna Bess Vaughn Auditorium seats 2,000 patrons in a warm acoustical environment. A full Broadway-sized stage includes a hydraulically-controlled orchestra pit floor which may be raised for concert use, or lowered for musical theatre productions.

Another facility inside the Cowan is the David G. and Jacqueline M. Braithwaite Recital Hall. It is a lovely chamber music venue and regularly hosts solo recitals and small chamber performances. It seats 161 patrons in three sections, with ample access for those with physical disabilities.

Plans were announced in January of 2015 for the UT Tyler Center for the Musical Arts, south of the existing Cowan Center at a cost of $6.5 million. The new 2-story facility includes a 70-seat band/orchestra practice room and a 72-seat choir practice room. The center also houses teaching studios for individual student and faculty instruction, a music library, faculty offices and instrument storage.

Symphony Orchestra

Cowan Center at the University of Texas at Tyler (UTT)
The home of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra, the Cowan Center at the University of Texas at Tyler (UTT)
(Photo Courtesy of the Cowan Center

The Tyler Symphony Orchestra began performances in March, 1936, and was renamed the East Texas Symphony Orchestra in 1954 to reflect the broader geographical audience which it serves.

It offers presentation of classical and contemporary music in diverse settings, at the Cowan Center, and at other venues such as the Caldwell Auditorium and outdoor park concerts. visit the website of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra for more information

Liberty Hall

The Liberty Theater originally was opened in 1930 as a first-run movie theater on the south side of the Tyler square, and continued in operation for 50 years.

Art deco style details inside Liberty Hall
Art deco style details inside Liberty Hall
(TylerTexasOnline staff photo)

The Liberty is once again home to memory-making events and entertainment after it was converted into Liberty Hall and re-opened in September 2011.

The hall is now the locale for a variety of quality entertainment, ranging from nationally known artists to regional and local entertainers from all genres of music, comedy, theater as well as classic movies. The theater is also available for rental to other organizations that present entertainment as well as for civic and private functions.

For more information, visit the website of the Liberty Hall.

Caldwell Auditorium

The Caldwell Auditorium is part of the Caldwell Elementary Arts Academy, and is operated by the Tyler Independent School District (TISD). It is located at 300 South College Avenue near downtown Tyler.

It is the site of a variety of performances and musical events through the year, including concerts sponsored by the Tyler Community Concert Association.

Tyler Museum of Art

Tyler Museum of Art
Tyler Museum of Art (TylerTexasOnline staff photo)

The highly-respected Tyler Museum of Art showcases both permanent, rotating and visiting collections.

Through the efforts of the Junior League of Tyler, the Tyler Museum of Art was opened in 1971. The Museum is located in an award-winning structure adjacent to the campus of Tyler Junior College. The building contains two major exhibition galleries on the ground floor, the North Gallery and the Bell Gallery. There is also a library, classroom, café, and gift shop.

The museum's growing permanent collection features over 1,200 works including paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture by artists such as James Surls, Vernon Fisher, Alexander Calder, Terry Allen, and Charles Umlauf.

The Museum is currently engaged in the design of a much larger facility.

For more information, visit the website of the Tyler Museum of Art.

Tyler Civic Theater Center (TCTC)

Braithwaite Theater, Tyler, Texas
Braithwaite Theatre (TylerTexasOnline staff photo)

Tyler Civic Theatre Center (TCTC) evolved from Tyler Little Theatre, formed in 1927. Through the tireless efforts of volunteers and the generosity of foundations and the public, TCTC's new home was christened in September 2000.

The original stage was renovated and rebuilt to house Rogers Children's Theatre. Student-actors are educated in all aspects of play production in classes designed for preschoolers through adults. The new Braithwaite Theatre at TCTC seats 350, almost twice the seating capacity of the original facility. The entire complex is called Tyler Civic Theatre Center.

It provides live thrillers & comedies for adults and classics good for the whole family. The center also offers summer drama camps, workshops, and classes for students age 4 through adult. The facility can also be rented.

TCTC is located at 400 Rose Park Drive near the Tyler Rose Garden and across from the Harvey Convention Center.

For more information, visit the website of the Tyler Civic Theater Center.

Festivals and Museums

Tyler Texas Arts District ...  "Where Music Lives"
Tyler Downtown Arts District"Where Music Lives"
(TylerTexasOnline staff photo)

Festivals are held through the year, from the Azalea Trails in the spring to the Texas Rose Festival in the fall. Various art shows and festivals are held in the downtown area through the year.

Located adjacent to the famous Tyler Rose Garden is the Tyler Rose Museum, which showcases and documents the history of the annual Texas Rose Festival.

And if you're looking for a good place to take the children or school groups, tour the Brookshire's Museum and Country Store or the Discovery Science Place.

Center for Earth and Space Science Education (CESSE) Planetarium

The Center for Earth and Space Science Education (CESSE) Planetarium, formerly known as the Hudnall Planetarium, has undergone a major expansion and renovation of its facilities on the main campus of Tyler Junior College (TJC).

The new facility features a state-of-the-art high-resolution digital projection system, a new 40-foot diameter theater, new exhibit space, additional classroom/instructional space, and outdoor educational plazas.

Read more about the new Tyler planetarium at CESSE/TJC


The Center for Earth and Space Science Education (CESSE) Planetarium (Staff Photo)
Center for Earth and Space Science Education (CESSE) Planetarium on the main campus of Tyler Junior College in Tyler Texas

Caldwell Zoo

The Caldwell Zoo in Tyler
The Caldwell Zoo in Tyler
(TylerTexasOnline staff photo)

The Caldwell Zoo is well known and for its extensive wildlife collection and educational opportunities. The zoo was started as a small backyard zoo by David King Caldwell in 1937. As the zoo grew, he purchased a farm in 1953, and named it the Caldwell Children's Zoo. Today the Caldwell Zoo spans 85 acres and is the home to over 2,000 animals.

The zoo continues to evolve and expand, and now includes an elephant facility, giraffe barn, an African savanna, African aquarium, North American herpetarium, wild bird walk-about, and other animal environments. A 15-acre native Texas area and Texas farm opened in 1983, followed by the Texas reptile and aquarium building.

The zoo is highly respected, and visited by thousands each year from all over Texas. We recommend a visit to this excellent zoo! visit the Zoo's website

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