get your museum on
Your cheat sheet to Museum District Day: Tips for all types for the free cultureromp
Museum District Day beckons with free cultural offerings on Saturday, Sept. 25. The day-long event offers free admission to 17 Houston museums, providing a fleet of bus shuttles to take you to and from each cultural institution (Click here for free bus shuttle routes and stops).
"There's so much I'm excited about for this event," Susan Schmaeling, representing the Houston Museum District, tells Culturemap, explaining that this is the event's 14th anniversary.
Schmaeling's top underground tip of the day is the Buffalo Soldiers Museum. "From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. they do a live performance of a buffalo soldier every hour, on the hour. I think that's really cool — a lot of people don't know about this great museum," she says.
Count on CultureMap to guide you through the day, no matter your tastes. We've got a few prime picks for art lovers, in-the-know families, international tastemakers and soul-searching Houstonians.
The Art Ace
Start off with a new survey of Art 101 with the exhibition, Earth Paint Paper Wood at the Menil Collection. Featuring an array of new acquisitions, from 18th century French portraiture to 21st century watercolors and ceramics, this exhibition reveals gifts, purchases and bequests that have remained under the radar of many Menil enthusiasts.
Next, join docent-led tours of the exhibition Dance with Camera at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston to get an inside view on how art, dance and video can flow together. From noon to 3 p.m., dance instructors will be on hand to reveal their secrets and teach the tango and some ballroom boogie.
Hop back on the bus and check in at Rice Gallery to experience D-17, Sarah Oppenheimer's monumental installation that soars upward and out of the museum space. You can temper Oppenheimer's conceptual rigor with free ice cream beneath the campus' sprawling live oaks.
Get crafty as you interact with craft artists and watch demonstrations at the "Gathering of the Guilds" event at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, where the CraftTexas 2010 exhibition is also on view. Be sure to wander Convergence II to get a glimpse of currents in glass bead jewelry.
The Jet-Setting Staycationer
Just because you're staying inside the Loop doesn't mean Museum District Day can't resemble an international jaunt. See the world with Created and Found Maps - Exploration of Self and World at Houston Center for Photography. Stroll over to the Menil campus and listen in on a world music sensation, "Divine Rhythm & United Motion" of award-winning reggae band D.R.U.M.
"It's so nice to lay out on the lawn at the Menil and listen to music — usually there are little kids dancing around," Schmaeling says.
Next, take the bus to the MFAH and be whisked away to Africa with the latest exhibition, Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria, featuring artifacts that are taking a leave from their Lagos museum for the fist time. Pretend that you're galavanting through an authentic Kunsthalle at the museum's shows — German Impressionist Landscape Painting: Liebermann-Corinth-Slevogt and Drawing from Nature: Landscapes by Liebermann, Corinth, and Slevogt.
To top off your tour, delve further into Central European culture at the nearby Czech Center Museum.
The Soul Seeker
Remake your mantra during Museum District Day while contemplating the Menil exhibition, Objects of Devotion, showcasing treasures from the world's religions. Next, meditate in the recreated 13th-century sacred setting at the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum.
While in the area, learn about Mark Rothko's monumental murals at a panel discussion, "Transformative Encounters with the Rothko Chapel." Professor Helen Winkler Fosdick, art conservator Carol Mancusi-Ungaro and Christopher Rothko, Ph.D. (the artist's son) will weigh in on the chapel's spiritual potential.
Contemplate the past on Caroline Street as Houston-area Holocaust survivors will speak about their experiences in appearances at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Visitors to the Holocaust Museum will also have the opportunity to create their own "stained glass windows" using contact paper and tissue paper, in conjunction with the exhibit, Never Let it Rest!
The Cultured Kiddo
The urbane adolescent comes with high entertainment expectations, and Museum District Day will not disappoint. On the top of the list is the Inventor's Workshop at the Children's Museum of Houston, where visitors can design a musical automation that will engineer tunes to be played by machines on-site (at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m.).
More music and family-fun arts and crafts stations await at The Health Museum, and the tykes can get in on hands-on climate creativity at The John C. Freeman Weather Museum.
Aspiring artists can create sock creatures inspired by Tobiah Mundt's felted work, BEING, and decorate the back patio with sidewalk chalk at Lawndale Art Center. The little prodigies can take a pitstop there with free lemonade.
Finally, children can chill out at the mini film fest, Kid Flix Mix 2010, featuring the best of the New York International Children's Film Festival, screened in the Brown Auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.