When I thought of Houston I didn’t exactly think of a roaring arts district filled with with theatres and performing arts centres. I also didn’t picture museums, art galleries and horse drawn carts. I was waiting for New York for the cultural part of our adventure. Once again, Houston bowled me over. A few street away from all the theatres hosting a range of ballets, musicals and theatre productions is the Houstom Museum District. Tree lined roads of cultural exchange, ancient sculptures, modern art and a look back at history and our planet. Our Awesome Houston CityPASSes included access to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
The Museum District
According to the visit Houston website, the museum district gets over 8.7 million visitors a year. Considering Houston’g sheer size, and the diverse array of museums and galleries to be found here I’m not surprised. No matter what tickles your fancy, you will find it here. War buff like my dad? Go visit the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum or the Holocaust Museum Houston. Inter art like myself and my mom? You can pick from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, the Houston Center for Photography or the Lawndale Art Center to name a few. For those into science there is the Houston Museum of Natural Science and for the kids there is the Houston Zoo or the Children’s Museum of Houston. For a comprehensive list of what’s going on and all the museums CLICK HERE.
Getting There. And Getting Around
As I mentioned in my earlier post in this series on the city itself, getting around is not a matter of public transport. You are going to need an uber or a hired car. Or a friend who lives in the city and his willing to go with you. As with all attractions, parking is generally more expensive when you use the parking right by the attraction you want to see. Quite perchance, we parked our cars at a parking garage in Jacinto street. Because we saw it, the price looked good and we knew that it was only a short walk to the Museum of Natural Science. A few minutes walk took us where we needed to be. We also saw that the parking at the museum cost double what we were paying. Not a bad save for what was literally a five minute walk.
The rest of the Museum District is very pedestrian friendly. There are wide sidewalks and beautiful trees all around. For me, part of the experience was walking from one museum to the other, taking in the beautiful city.
A note on pricing
Maybe its a South African thing, but if you pay for entrance in South Africa, you are generally able see it all. What was frustrating for us, perhaps because we aren’t used to it, is that you have to pay extra to see some exhibits. We were lucky that our CitiPASSes allowed us access to one of the ‘paid-for’ exhibits. Know that if there is something specific that you would like to see you may have to cough up a few more dollars. But in general, there is more than enough to see and do without having to spend more of those hard earned dollars.
For grumbling tummies…
Some of the bigger museums have restaurants or coffee shops in them. This can range from something affordable like a McDonalds or a classy out of your price-range kind of vibe. I recommend keeping a few protein bars and a bottle of water in your bag. Most places don’t have an issue if you bring in something low key. Otherwise keep some food in your car. You can snack on while walking from one stop to another or picnic in the beautiful gardens.
Where we went…
The Museum of Natural Science
As a self-proclaimed nerd the museum of natural science was a real treat for me. We spent a lot of our time wander through the paleontology exhibitions. I’ve seen dinosaur fossils before, but never so many grouped together. We skipped over the African sections as we get to see those animals back home, but what really intrigued myself and Mauritz was the Central and Southern American exhibitions. The museum contains examples of art, architecture, tools, clothing and jewellery from fascinating cultures. The iconic patterns of the Mayans, Incas and Andalusians drew us to them. As this isn’t a culture “close to home” for us is wasn’t something we had specific knowledge on. Or had been exposed to. The interactive displays in the museum also give you a sense of history, and how these cultures used and made the wonderful objects on display.
Museum of Fine Arts
I have to confess that I do draw and paint myself, and that I took art as a subject. That being said, neither my husband, brother nor father have picked up a paintbrush for anything other than wall. My mother and I were inthralled with the details of the expressionist paintings on the walls. They were more than happy to examine the armor, artifacts and weapons form a number of different countries and time periods. The museum hosts some wonderful paintings from Rembrandt to Warhol as well Photography, modern art and installations. You can spend anything from half a day to two days here.
Always check the opening and closing times as they do change according to the season before driving out.
If you have a few days in Houston, I would definitely recommend spending at least a full day in the museum district. Even if you are just going to enjoy the beautiful gardens.
If you’ve enjoyed this post be sure to check out the other posts in the Houston Series! Click here for everything you need to know for a trip to the Johnson Space Center, or an overview of the awesome city that is Houston!