Ready. Set. Museum!
It's that time of the year again when 18 cultural institutions welcome a curious artsy crowd to explore their métier free of charge, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's true that some of the venues taking part in Museum District Day 2012 on Saturday are free everyday of the week, but with special programs, performances and interactive activities, the event is more akin to an aesthetic crawl than a typical stroll through the galleries.
Courtesy of Ellen DeGeneres, METRORail transportation will be free for the duration of the festival. And with the addition of free pedicabs between four walking zones, taking in what each respective collection has to offer is more convenient than on a regular visit.
If and when your stomach calls for some sustenance, a brigade of food trucks are ready, willing and able and satisfy your hunger.
So dress in comfortable clothing, bring an umbrella just in case Mother Nature doesn't cooperate and prepare yourself for a cultural adventure.
FINDING THE ART
More than just forging stemware or windows, artists featured in Glass Graphica at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft are dexterous at manipulating glass in endless ways. For those curious about crafts in general, a diverse groups of smiths will congregate at the Annual Gathering of the Guilds and offer demonstrations all day long.
More hand-on activities can be found at Lawndale Art Center, where sketchbooking complements a walk to the north exterior wall to view the "F" Team mural, a collaboration between Daniel Anguilu, James Burns, Tierney L. Malone, Angel Quesada, Michael C. Rodriguez, Roland Saldaña and Dandee Warhol. Gorgeous images are waiting to be discovered at the Houston Center for Photography.
Charge your cell and delve deep into the works by calling in for an audio tour.
Too many exhibitions to list are ongoing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, including Scandinavian Design, Public Dress and The Art of Exaggeration. You could also broaden your visit by attending a lecture with Diane Lovejoy, author of The Cat Lady Chronicles, or a talk by curator Edgar Peters Bowron about the aesthetics of Japanese Gardens.
At the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Jane Alexander: Surveys (from the Cape of GoodHope) depicts the impulse behind human behavior through the lens of the South African experience. Tradition Redefined: The Larry and Brenda Thompson Collection of African American Art at the Rice University Art Gallery surveys various facets of American art.
A DOSE OF CULTURE
Asia Society Texas Center has conveniently planned its Family Day: Central Asia and The Silk Road during Museum District Day. There, you and the little ones can learn about the oldest trade route, from China to Europe, and the many countries that were influenced by this busy merchant caravan.
The impressionist works of Czech-American painter Kamil Kubik are on view at the Czech Center Museum Houston.
Maori representatives will be onsite at the Menil Collection leading workshops and activities, titled "Gifts of the Spirit - Gifts of Healing," that reach beyond the physical artifacts on view. Relax inside St. Paul's United Methodist Church and bask in the Gothic architecture while the kids play in the al fresco labyrinth.
KNOW YOUR HISTORY
All day, re-enactors will bring to life The Buffalo Soldier Story by Trooper Biggs at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. Through Holocaust Museum Houston's exhibition Blood Memory: A View from the Second Generation and Inheritance: Stories of Memory and Discovery, survivors share personal accounts of their struggle to endure.
Make time to peruse the new paleontology hall at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where your favorite KHOU Ch. 11 anchors will be meeting guests. At the Weather Museum, it's all about atmospheric pressure in the exhibitions When Weather Goes Wild! and Extreme Weather Guide. Learn about expressive writing, typology and dreams at the Jung Center.
MUSIC IN THE GALLERIES
At the Menil Collection, music escapes the confines of a traditional concert hall into the galleries from 3 to 5 p.m. Paying homage to John Cage's centennial, Da Camera of Houston ushers an assemblage of musicians to perform many works of the avant garde composer, in addition to other pieces by Cage's contemporaries. At the Rothko Chapel, Landscape Scrolls will be presented throughout the day. The piece was commissioned from Peter Garland by percussion John Lane, who will perform the work as part of Rothko's Intersection New Music Collective series.
The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's front lawn is set for live music and hands-on workshops led by the museum's Teen Council.
LITTLE PEOPLE FUN
Anything and everything is interactive at the Children's Museum of Houston, and that includes Instructables: Made in your Mind, a do-it-yourself play station that fosters problem-solving skills. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston hosts mask-making, detective games, family crafts and Japanese rice paper screen making. Head to the Health Museum to test your hearing abilities at Sonic Sensation 2012, an interactive exhibition that explores all the scientific characteristics of sound.
About sound: Asia Society Texas Center's percussion workshop will keep children artfully occupied, alongside the crafts, story time and tours.