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The birth of an important museum - Dallas justifiably pats itself on the back

Until recently, the biggest tourist attraction in Dallas was the site of the John F. Kennedy assassination. But in January, the extraordinary new Dallas Museum of Art, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, opened its doors to the public, and it is rapidly becoming the major tourist attraction in the city.

Dallas: A Stake in the Arts (PBS, Sunday, Aug. 12, 10-10:30 p.m., check local listings) is the behind-the-galleries story on how art and politics combined forces in a partnership to create an artistic centerpiece for a city that boasts that its business is business.

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Based on the premise that ''a great city needs a great art museum,'' the private and public sectors in Dallas pulled together to raise around $50 million to build the museum, including a specially commissioned Claes Oldenburg sculpture entitled ''Stake Hitch,'' a centerpiece in the building's central barrel vault.

The Oldenburg consists of a huge metal spike that appears to have been driven through the floor of the museum into the parking garage below. The museum itself is in the newly gentrified ''Arts District'' in downtown Dallas.

''A Stake in the Arts,'' produced by Blaine Dunlap for KERA, Dallas, does not limit itself to the behind-the-scenes manipulation of the powers that be. It also concerns itself with the physical move of works of art from the old ''dinky'' museum at the old fairgrounds to their new, glorious home in the Arts District.

''A Stake'' is an alluring contribution to art and to the new graphic literature of art museums. Says the museum's director: ''The history of museums is full of stories of ego fulfillment on the parts of individuals. What's unique here is the ego fulfillment on the part of a whole city.''

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