Arts Walking Tour, Houston

Arts Walking Tour (Self Guided), Houston

Among the wide variety of tourist attractions Houston has to offer, several art museums and galleries deserve special attention. These galleries will thrill all art lovers. Take this walking tour to discover some of the best museums and galleries in Houston.
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Arts Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Arts Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Houston (See other walking tours in Houston)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Contemporary Arts Museum
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Cullen Sculpture Garden
  • Lawndale Art Center
  • Center for Contemporary Craft
  • Cy Twombly Gallery
  • Menil Collection
  • Rothko Chapel
Contemporary Arts Museum

1) Contemporary Arts Museum

The Contemporary Arts Museum is one of the most interesting places to visit in the Museum District of Houston, Texas. As its name suggests, it focuses on modern types of art. It is located on Montrose Blvd, in the heart of the District.

The location was founded in 1948. A group of seven prominent people from the city started the project, in order to give the Houston area a place to showcase the work of more modern artists. The museum has grown in size and stature throughout the years, and has had to be remodeled a couple of times. The last major renovation was in 1997. It is an award winning facility, which draws in exhibits from around the world. Many controversial styles of medium also end up being displayed here. It may very well challenge your understanding of what constitutes art. The museum is free of charge, so this can be a real budget saver for families.

Opening hours: Tuesday - Wednesday: 10 am – 7 pm; Thursday: 10 am - 9 pm; Friday: 10 am - 7 pm; Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm; Sunday: 12 pm - 6 pm.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Museum of Fine Arts

2) Museum of Fine Arts (must see)

One of the Museum District's hallmark institutions, this museum is outstanding, balancing a collection of excellent Western art from antiquity to modern times (to include a few Picassos) with a a whole other section dedicated to (largely pre-modern and early modern) art from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and pre-Columbian America. And that's before one gets to the special exhibitions that change regularly through the year, showing some of the world's finest collections.

The touching, relevant, and sometimes exclusive exhibits – both permanent and temporary – always leave visitors with either a new appreciation for a favorite artist, or reward with the discovery of a new favorite artist. Everything is curated with care and every artist is explored in a way that makes viewers/listeners think about the world. These days, they almost always offer an audio guide that allows simply pointing at the little boxes by the artwork in order to hear the commentary.

It also helps that visitors can also go see films and live musical orchestras, stroll through the nice outdoor sculpture garden, or have a nice coffee and lunch at the café. The gift shop is not to be missed, either, with all kinds of wonderful, unique artifacts, jewelry, books, children's toys and so much more (museum stuff always makes great gifts!).

Why You Should Visit:
The diversity and educational value of the thousands and thousands of works here is admirable and among the highest in the U.S. A definite must-visit for art lovers!

Be sure to pass through the underground light tunnel to access the museum’s second facility across the street, in which you'll find intricate Italian glass carvings, Spanish and colonial-era art artifacts, and more.

Opening Hours:
Wed: 11am–5pm; Thu: 11am–9pm; Fri, Sat: 11am–6pm; Sun: 12:30pm–6pm
Cullen Sculpture Garden

3) Cullen Sculpture Garden

This wonderful – albeit relatively small – sculpture garden is owned and maintained by the Museum of Fine Arts whose buildings are nearby. Free to enter and enjoy, it has a nice mix of art – some modern and some of a more classical style, all clearly identified with small plaques. Most of the work benefits from multiple viewings, with many sculptures looking differently from different angles, seemingly changing as visitors walk around them. Although on a much smaller scale than Chicago's "Bean", the shiny "Cloud Column" here, created by the same Anish Kapoor, is particularly fun to see.

Interestingly enough, the location is not well-known by even the people of Houston, as the maze of streets surrounding Hermann Park can be daunting to navigate. Combine that with the fact that the park is walled in for privacy (and sound insulation) and you have the makings of a hard-to-find place. It is very much worth finding, however, as you can have a great visit with few people competing for space. There are chairs and tables should you like to bring a lunch or to just sit and enjoy the view; plus, with the museum's security guards constantly wandering around, safety is not an issue.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am–10pm
Lawndale Art Center

4) Lawndale Art Center

Lawndale Art Center is a non-profit alternative space for the exhibition of contemporary works in all media, and is unique in its focus on local artists. Founded in 1979, Lawndale has owned its present location on Main Street in the Museum District since 1993. Lawndale has four galleries in a recently remodeled and architecturally significant 1930s Art Deco building, designed by Joseph Finger.

The galleries exhibit close to 500 artists annually in changing exhibitions. Over twenty exhibitions, informal talks, and special events are offered yearly including annual events such as Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead, the 20th Century Modern Market, and The Big Show. Exhibitions, special events, and benefits are carried out with the invaluable assistance of volunteers, interns, work-study personnel and in-kind contributors.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Center for Contemporary Craft

5) Center for Contemporary Craft

The Center for Contemporary Craft is located in the heart of the Museum District of Houston, at 4848 Main Street. As an organization, it is one of the only museums in the country that is so narrowly focused on the mission of the processes, history, and making of crafts. As such, it is also a very popular destination for visitors, as you can see everything from bead making to quilting here.

There are a lot of exhibits to see on every type of craft imaginable. The location is also used a lot for various shows. Studio space is available in the location, so that artists from all across the country can come and demonstrate their craft first hand. It’s a real opportunity to get hands on with the artists. You can even create some of your own gifts here. Educational programs for schools throughout the area are also done here.

The Center is open to the public from Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 am until 5 pm On Sunday, it is open from noon until 5 pm. The Center is closed on Mondays.
Cy Twombly Gallery

6) Cy Twombly Gallery

Edwin Parker "Cy" Twombly, Jr. (April 25, 1928 – July 5, 2011) was an American painter of large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic and graffiti-like works on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors. His paintings are in the permanent collections of the New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Musée du Louvre in Paris. A part of the Menil Collection, the Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston is dedicated exclusively to the work of American artist Cy Twombly (b. 1928).

The building that houses the gallery is a piece of art in itself. Commissioned by Dominique de Menil and designed by Renzo Piano, it opened in 1995. The Cy Twombly Gallery, which was designed by Renzo Piano and opened in 1995, houses more than thirty of Twombly's paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, dating from 1953 to 1994. A large collection of Twombly's work is also kept by the Museum Brandhorst, the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich and The Dallas Museum of Art, Texas. In 1995, The Four Seasons entered the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art as a gift from the artist.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Menil Collection

7) Menil Collection

The Menil Collection is a museum in Houston that features the private art collection of John and Dominique de Menil. It is located in the Neartown area, very close to the University of St. Thomas. Dominique was very rich, having been the heir of the money from the Schlumberger Oil Company estate. Her husband was one of the executives of the company.

The facility opened to the public in 1987. The collection is mainly made up of pieces from the 20th Century. You can find sculptures, paints, photographs and the like from such famous artists as Max Ernst, Man Ray, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. Besides this, the museum also has one of Houston’s best pop art collections. There are some antiquities and medieval style art as well.

Why You Should Visit:
Free admission with outstanding permanent collections and exhibitions.
Recently renovated now better than ever, the design truly allows the viewer to appreciate each and every work.
Also, the grounds outside are good for picnics & chillin' if you want to read or study.

Check out the Dan Flavin lights installation, the Rothko Chapel, Cy Twombly Gallery, and/or the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, all in walking distance from the Menil Building.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Sun: 11am-7pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Rothko Chapel

8) Rothko Chapel

Rothko Chapel is not oriented with any particular faith tradition. It is located in downtown Houston and was founded by John and Dominique de Menil. But calling this the place a chapel is an understatement of the work of art which is at this place. It was one of the first true ecumenical structures in the world. It is open for all faith traditions of the world to use and appreciate. In its history, it has been a proverbial Mecca for international culture and religious tolerance and exchange. It is also the spot for many performances. The center is also used as a house of prayer for many faith traditions.

The shape of the building is octagonal in nature. It also sits inside a Greek cross. The walls of the chapel hold 14 paintings done by Mark Rothko. In the year 2000, it was added to the National Registry for Historic Places. This in itself is quite the achievement, because buildings are typically not added to the NRHP until they are at least fifty years old.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Houston, Texas

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