Visit Houston Museums On the Web, by Beverly Rosenbaum

Houston has more than 75 museums, and 5 other cultural resources to enrich our understanding.

At there is a collection of links to 15 of the area museums and the Houston Zoo. The museums in this group are located near Hermann Park, in the vicinity of Main Street and Hermann Drive.   They participate in an annual Museum District Day, and this year the 9th annual event will be held on Saturday, October 15, with free entry to those museums from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are 4 MetroRail stops near the museum district, and in past years visitors have been offered free rides for the event.

You can easily learn about them through the Internet. The area museums and their web sites include the following (in alphabetical order):

1. Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is a permanent exhibition of artifacts and memorabilia chronicling the African-American military experience from the Revolutionary War to modern times. Free to the Public for groups up to 9 persons.

2. Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum houses the only intact Byzantine frescos in the entire Western Hemisphere. These 13th-century masterworks were stolen by thieves from a chapel in the Turkish-occupied town of Lysi on Cyprus, cut into pieces and smuggled off the island. Rescued and restored by the Menil Foundation, the dome and apse now reside on long-term loan from the Church of Cyprus in an intimate chapel designed by award-winning architect Francois de Menil. Free admission.

3. The Children's Museum of Houston is rated one of the top two children's museums in the country, offering 14 galleries of hands-on, minds-turned on exhibits and innovative outreach programming for kids ages birth to 12 years. Kids can conduct wacky science experiments, make animal tracks to learn about the environment, get up to their elbows in sudsy fun, produce their own television spots and more. Free Family Nights are offered every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. courtesy of The Wortham Foundation, Inc. and John P. McGovern, M.D.

4. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presents major contemporary art exhibitions by emerging and established regional, national and international artists. Significant publications and education programs accompany the exhibitions. Free admission.

5. Holocaust Museum Houston has a permanent exhibit at the Museum called Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers and focuses on the stories of Holocaust survivors living in the Houston metropolitan area.

6. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is one of the most innovative organizations in the country dedicated to museum-quality contemporary craft. Exhibitions, educational programs, a retail gallery and artists in residence provide opportunities to experience the excitement of the handmade. Free admission.

7. Houston Center for Photography is an educational and cultural organization that deepens the understanding of the photographic arts, offering 16 thought-provoking exhibitions a year by emerging, mid-career artists and under-recognized artists.

8. Houston Museum of Natural Science is a treasure trove of the rare, the beautiful and the record-breaking. Four floors of exhibits include the world-class Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals to the Paleontology Hall, the Hall of the Americas, and the new Hall of African Wildlife, as well as the Wortham IMAX® Theatre, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, and the Burke Baker Planetarium. The associated George Observatory is located in Brazos Bend State Park.

9. The Houston Zoo is home to more than 3,100 animals including koalas, flamingos, elephants, tigers, orangutans, lions, and monkeys. Visitors can stroll through 55 acres of lush tropical foliage, take a spin on the Wildlife carousel with more than 50 hand-carved and hand-painted animals, and go shopping in the "Natural Selection" gift shop. Upcoming events at the Zoo include Grandparent's Day September 10 from 9-11 a.m., and a Fiestas Patrias Celebration on September 18.

10. The Jung Center of Houston, an education institution founded in 1958, offers fresh perspectives and deeper insights into the human condition to those who treasure the world of ideas and learning. Jung's psychology honors a religious attitude toward life as well as a secular perspective by inviting personal growth and wisdom to understand our path and purpose.

11. Lawndale Art Center is an alternative art space dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art with an emphasis on work by Houston artists. Lawndale presents exhibitions, lectures and events to further the creative exchange of ideas between Houston's diverse artistic, cultural and student communities.

12. The John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science is an interactive health and life science center for all ages that promotes understanding and appreciation of the human body and inspires a lifelong commitment to health. The Museum's newest permanent addition, By You City, offers hands-on activities, opportunities for role-playing, puppets and craft projects to help younger children develop environmental awareness and appreciation for their city. In addition, the museum includes a Texas-sized, walk-through tour of the human body, hands-on health science classes, videos and special programs.

13. The Menil Collection, named for its founders John and Dominique de Menil, is housed in a modern landmark designed by architect Renzo Piano. The museum compound also includes the Cy Twombly Gallery, and the collection's permanent displays include ancient and Byzantine treasures, modern and contemporary masterpieces and Surrealist wonders. Free admission.

14. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston houses a collection of world art from antiquity to the present, including The Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, the Glassell School of Art, and two house museums: Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and Rienzi. The MFAH hosts major touring exhibitions and offer public programs and weekend films. Free general admission on Thursday, courtesy of Shell Oil Company

15. Rice University Art Gallery invites outstanding contemporary artists to create new installations on site. Four times a year, individual artists working in diverse media transform the Rice Gallery's glass-fronted space, located on the ground floor of Sewall Hall, near the main entrance of the campus. An annual student exhibition highlighting the work of graduating seniors is also held each spring semester. The gallery is closed this summer for installation of a new track lighting system and will reopen September 22.

16. The Rothko Chapel is an intimate sanctuary created by American abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, and holds 14 of his paintings. Open to people of every belief and committed to human rights and social justice, the Chapel serves as both art museum and public forum, hosting a wide range of educational programs, inter-religious dialogues and symposia on critical issues. It’s open every day, and allows religious ceremonies for up to one hour and groups up to 100 people.

More Cultural Resources

Additional links for cultural resources include these:

Miller Outdoor Theatre, which offers free performances from March through October.

Hermann Park hosts an annual Holiday Lights Festival from Thanksgiving through Christmas, illuminating a one-mile stretch of the park around the Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Reflection Pool and the eight-acre McGovern Lake. Plans are under way for the 5th annual event,

The MetroRail site at, in partnership with the Museum of Natural Science, offers buy-one-get-one-free museum tickets to Metro customers. See details at

Museum Educators’ Open House

On Saturday, September 10, 2005 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., educators and school administrators are invited to explore the exhibitions and educational resources available to their students at the 10 th annual Museum Educators’ Open House in the Houston Museum District. Each participating museum will offer educators free access to exhibitions, a preview of education programs, hands-on activities, and at some locations, free refreshments. More than 30 museums and cultural organizations will showcase their offerings for the upcoming season at the Museum Educators’ Open House. Educators with a Greater Houston area school district should pre-register online at for a free admission coupon. To obtain more information about this event, contact Monica Rhodes at the South Main Center Association at 713.790.1020 or by e-mail at

Beverly Rosenbaum, a HAL-PC member, is a 1999 and 2000 Houston Press Club “Excellence in Journalism” award winner. Send her your comments about this column to