‘The Houston Museum District is a riot of arts and cultural institutions, all within a 1.5 mile radius. This is a quick guide to Houston Museum District: Zone 1…’

There are a total of 19 buildings in Houston Museum District, which cover every subject you can imagine. The area is a must-see for anyone visiting Houston and shows off the very best of the diverse city and its residents. The district comprises 4 fully pedestrianised Zones and many of the museums are free of charge.

The admission paying sights mostly take part in a Free Thursday program. Others operate free entry on the first Monday or Tuesday of the month.  It’s always best to check individual websites before you visit, if you’re looking for a freebie, or travelling on a budget.

This is a quick overview of each zone, plus the attractions within in.  It’s impossible to see everything, so choose your targets wisely!

Zone 1

Zone 1 is the smallest of the 4 Zones in Houston Museum District and consists of 3 museums.  These are: Rothko Chapel; The Menil Collection, and the Houston Center for Photography.   The three museums are all within a 4 block radius, so are easy to navigate on foot if you’re taking the metro around the city.

Rothko Chapel

Rothko doubles up as a chapel and modern art museum, making it a fairly unique attraction.  In 1964, Dominique and John de Menil commissioned abstract artist, Mark Rothko to produce 14 works to decorate the interior of the space.

The paintings vary in size, but all are pretty much plain canvasses in dark tones.  However, they do fit well in the space and, after all, the chapel is a place for reflection.  Sadly, Rothko committed suicide a year before the works were installed in the Chapel and didn’t live long enough to see them in their surroundings.

In the middle of the plaza at the front of the chapel is a the haunting sculpture of the ‘Broken Obelisk’ which was built in memory of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr.  The Chapel features on the USA National Register of Historic Places

Rothko Chapel is located at 3900 Yupon Street and is open Monday – Sunday from 10am – 6pm. Admission to the site is FREE of charge and parking is available (also free).

The Menil Collection

This museum houses the private collection of the de Menil family and comprises paintings, books, sculptures and other works.  The most famous works in the collection were produced by artists, such as Magritte, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.  Mark Rothko’s work is also represented.

Rather famously, a visitor to the collection defaced Picasso’s ‘Woman in a red armchair‘ painting on a trip in 2012.  Hopefully, someone kicked him squarely in the groin for his efforts.

The Menil Center is located on 1533 Sul Ross Street and is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 7pm, but closed Monday and Tuesday.   Admission is FREE of charge and free parking is available on site, as well as in the surrounding neighbourhood.

Houston Center for Photography

Displaying a range of contemporary photographs and temporary exhibitions, the center is also for its educational work.  In addition to the displays, there’s a digital darkroom, library and various lectures throughout the year.

At at time when being an immigrant doesn’t always appear a good thing in America, it provides a welcome refuge . The center is a celebration of all that makes us different.

The building is located on 1441 West Alabama Street and admission is free of charge.  The center is closed on Monday and Tuesday, but opened Wednesday and Thursday from 11am – 9pm, Fridays from 11am – 5pm, and weekends from 11am – 7pm.  Free parking is available on site and in the surrounding neighbourhood.

Have you been to Texas and visited Houston Museum District? What’s your favourite museum?

Suz xx