The Houston Museum District is a collection of historical museums, cultural centers, galleries, and organizations in Houston, Texas, dedicated to art, science, culture, and history. It includes 20 museums with a total attendance of over 8 million visitors in 2012. Eleven of the museums are always free to visit, and all of them offer free tours on occasion. The Museum District is the area in a 1.5-mile radius of Hermann Park.
It began in 1977 when action was needed to provide easier access to area museums. This initiative evolved into the Montrose Project in the mid-80s but became the Museum District Development Association of Houston soon after. In 1989, the Museum District was recognized formally by the City of Houston. The founding organization dissolved in1994, and in 1997, the Museum District came under the aegis of the Houston Museum District Association. The Museum District attracts visitors of all ages and backgrounds who wish to celebrate and study art, history, culture, and nature.
The Houston Museum District fell into disrepair in the late 1970s. It badly needed care to improve the roads and to make the area presentable. The movement to repair the District began as a community movement led by Alexandra R. Marshall in 1977 to transform it into a pedestrian-friendly area replete with a Museum of Fine Arts as its core. In a vehicle-oriented city, which to this day holds the title of the largest city in the U.S. with no zoning, this was a fairly progressive notion.
The Development Association proposed a phased plan to improve the district and to make it more friendly to pedestrians within the confines of Allen Parkway, Hermann Park, and Buffalo Bayou. It leveraged the burgeoning local political climate to create the opportunity to give Houston a new area of vital urban and cultural importance. The concept was compared to the famous French Quarter in New Orleans, as well as St. Germain in Paris, and Washington, DC’s Georgetown.
Since its completion, the ongoing efforts of the Houston Museum District’s many supporting organizations have incorporated several community improvement projects, such as tree planting, sidewalk paving, the construction of new buildings and amenities, the expansion of the area, new esplanade designs, beautification, the establishment of public transport to and from the Museum District, as well is police support and the organization of numerous cultural events and festivals.
Current Member Museums Include
- Asia Society Texas Center
- The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
- The Children’s Museum of Houston
- Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
- The Czech Cultural Center Houston
- The Health Museum
- The Holocaust Museum Houston
- Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
- The Houston Center for Photography
- The Houston Museum of African American Culture
- Houston Museum of Natural Science
- The Houston Zoo
- The John C. Freeman Weather Museum
- Jung Center Of Houston
- The Lawndale Art Center
- The Menil Collection
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- The Rice University Art Gallery
- Rothko Chapel