Houston has many different personalities, but if you leave town without discovering its artsy side, you’re missing out. The Houston Museum District offers a variety of museums that feature just about every type of art imaginable; whether you’re looking for contemporary art and modern sculpture or you long to browse through antique treasures and rare paintings, this unique area has you covered. With 19 museums in a 1.5-mile radius, there’s no shortage of places to visit. (You can even take a quick trip through the human body!) Here are five museums to check out during your stay.
The collection of John and Dominique de Menil is considered one of the most important and impressive private collections of the 20th century, and with more than 17,000 pieces, it takes an entire campus to hold all the art. This 30-acre neighborhood known as the Menil Collection also hosts visiting collections and provides an immersive experience that covers a wide representation of artists and genres.
It’s home to one of the world’s foremost collections of Surrealist art and has rare masterpieces from tribal cultures around the globe, Byzantine and medieval worlds, and modern and contemporary artists. While you’re on the campus, stop by Bistro Menil, where chef Greg Martin offers European-inspired American fare for lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner, with brunch on the weekends.
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
The stainless-steel façade in the heart of the museum district makes the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston one of the most recognizable buildings in the area. Since opening in 1972, the building has housed some of the most distinguished contemporary artists in its two gallery spaces. Up to 10 exhibits are presented each year, and the museum has continued to evolve with the times, so expect to see anything from videography and visual art to sculptures and paintings as you visit these galleries.
Lawndale Art Center
With an emphasis on regional artists, the Lawndale Art Center has a collection that you won’t find anywhere else. Its four galleries, three artist studios, and outdoor sculpture garden make it the perfect place to discover new art and artists in a relaxed environment. Fresh exhibits open every few weeks, ensuring that there’s always something new to discover.
The Health Museum
It’s not your typical museum, but you most definitely won’t forget a visit here. The Health Museum is an interactive center that lets you explore the art and science of the human body. Inside the Amazing Body Pavilion, you’ll get a very close look at how the human body works, and there’s even an exhibit that lets you see what you’ll be like (inside and out) in 30 years. Exhibits also look at how technology and science are empowering our health options and taking us into the future. If you believe that the human body is a work of art, then this is the place for you.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
In addition to being the oldest art museum in the state, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is one of the largest museums in the United States. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the collections housed inside. With nearly 64,000 works of art, the museum’s permanent collection is drawn from six continents and represents more than 6,000 years of history.
The campus includes seven different facilities, each home to a certain type of art, including the remarkable Cullen Sculpture Garden. It boasts collections of art from every major era in history — and from virtually every place on Earth. After taking in the sights, enjoy some food and drinks from the Fellini Caffe, which boasts an Italian-inspired menu crafted with distinct Texas flair.
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