Since Van Romans joined the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in 2004, it has undergone a dramatic transformation. The former professor of design, who came to Fort Worth after a 25-year tenure at the Walt Disney Company, has made entertainment and education a priority in the museum world, and the results are nothing short of astounding.
How has the museum changed since you took up your post?
Our spectacular new building, designed by the acclaimed architects Legoretta + Legoretta, is the most obvious change. Not only does the design uphold the high standards of our colleagues in the Cultural District, the new space allows us to present top-tier national exhibitions like “Titanic” and “Star Wars.” But more important, it is a symbol that the community has embraced our broad mission.
What are some of your favorite places to visit here?
You mean besides the Museum of Science and History? Bass Hall is truly an outstanding performance space. Sundance Square is a great gathering area, and the Stockyards district is full of history. That’s where you’ll find the world’s first indoor rodeo arena. I also love the annual Fort Worth Stock Show. If you’ve never been to a stock show and rodeo, this is the one to take in.
What is your favorite Fort Worth landmark?
Here’s a twist: I’ll pick a landmark that no longer exists. I’m drawn to sacred ground near the old Post Office in downtown Fort Worth where the Spring Palace stood in 1889-90. You can still see a circle where the building was destroyed in a flash fire in its second year. One man died trying to save other visitors. Despite the success of the fair in promoting Texas products, the Palace was never rebuilt.
Where do you love to eat out?
You just can’t find better Mexican restaurants anywhere else in this country. I’m originally from California and have traveled throughout the Southwest, and I can say with authority that the restaurants here are special. Our favorites are Uncle Julio’s and Joe T. Garcia’s.
What’s been your favorite exhibit at the museum?
We have great permanent exhibits, and our Innovation Studios are always fun. We also host fascinating national exhibitions like “Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition,” (opens Oct. 11). But my personal favorite was “Fort Worth Champions!” which told the stories of local sports heroes like Ben Hogan and Polly Riley.
My Perfect Day
10 am: Quality Park Time
I’ll head to the park with my granddaughter. Both Overton Park and Trinity Trails are favorites.
2 pm: Pigskin Cheer
In the fall, I’ll spend the afternoon watching college football if my alma mater, USC, is on TV.
8 pm: Arts + Culture
At night, we like to search out performances at some of the smaller theaters, like the Amphibian, Stage West or Jubilee Theatre. There’s really a thriving arts community here with talent comparable to off-Broadway.