Art venues located beyond the Museum District
Photo courtesy Daniel Ortiz
Houston not only houses a premier museum district just outside of the hedges from Rice, but art scattered throughout the city. This art often holds greater variety and uniqueness, allowing for visitors to see new sides of the city and the artists that reside here. Whether you want a reason to explore Houston or are an art connoisseur looking for new museums to venture to, here are some venues to check out all around Houston.
Harrisburg Art Museum
A graffiti museum east of downtown, Harrisburg Art Museum allows a variety of artists to showcase their work. With a series titled “Anonymous Art,” they allow both artists with no graffiti background as well as those from the graffiti world to use the space, both able to further their craft. The result is a plethora of murals depicting everything from words in bold telling stories to black and white graphic novel style paintings. With both indoor and outdoor graffiti murals, HAM is a great place to walk around and get a feel for local art.
The Rienzi is an extension of the Museum of Fine Arts in the Museum District focusing on European decorative arts. This elegant house converted into an art museum sits in River Oaks. Inside is not only European decorative arts but also furniture, porcelain and miniatures. This collection uses its location inside a house to showcase the variety of its collection, especially as related to the concept of the house itself. The Rienzi offers both guided tours and the chance to look around at the wonder alone.
Art Car Museum
The Art Car Museum is a private museum in the Heights that showcases contemporary art. Its collections and exhibitions comprise mainly of — you guessed it — art cars, and also other fine arts that might require a more unique space for showing. Recent shows have included “What I Did On My Covid Vacation” and “The Car Show,” the latter focused on cars post World War II and a dive into Cuban cars. This museum is by appointment only and makes good use of the fact that Houston is the “Art Car Capital” by giving its patrons a sampling of what the city has to offer.
Off the Wall Gallery
Off the Wall Gallery in the Galleria holds a range of artists from Pablo Picasso to Dr. Seuss. With a wide array of works spanning the globe and various eras, Off the Wall holds pieces for every taste. The gallery prides itself on growing and adapting with the art world itself and holds various exhibitions as well as more intimate dinners for an art immersion experience.
A collection closer to the Museum District, the Menil is free to the public, housing everything from prehistoric art to contemporary pieces. Outdoors, the grounds of the Menil Collection house a mini sculpture garden, with a grassy area perfect for a picnic. The museum also regularly rotates some more contemporary art, often including local artists. A recent collection included an interactive rainforest room, and currently a play on blacklights can be found in Richmond Hall within the space. Right next door is also the Rothko Chapel, previously mentioned in our guide to unusual art venues.
The Beer Can House
A folk-art house located in Houston’s Rice Military neighborhood, the Beer Can House has more than 50,000 beer cans covering every square inch possible. Created by John Milkovisch in the late ’60s, this house today sits open for the public to explore. The inside of the house also provides a blast from the past with an ongoing restoration project to ensure that the house retains all of its beer can glory.
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