It's easy to picture what life was like in centuries past at Matagorda County Museum. That's because the museum highlights the county's most memorable events with both detailed recreations and actual artifacts. Guests can absorb the county's nautical history by viewing a cannon and other artifacts recovered from a shipwreck at the bottom of Matagorda Bay. They can also learn about indigenous family life or discover the charms and hardships of life in a covered wagon thanks to exhibits on those topics.
For an even more immersive experience, families need only step in to the award-winning children's section of the museum. There, kids can discover what life was really like more than 100 years ago in a recreation of a late 19th-century town. Newly minted citizens can swing by the town's O.K. Corral to drop off their horses, stop into the barber shop for a shave and a haircut, or head to the one-room schoolhouse to look over education primers. Other places of interest include an opera house, a post office, and, in case anyone at the post office gets caught opening letters not addressed to them, a jail.
What was once a jumbled catch-all for the hunting trophies of Dr. E. A. Weinheimer, and a generous donation from Steve McManus, has been streamlined into a collection of well-organized exhibits at the El Campo Museum of Natural History. They feature these trophies along with others in realistic replicas of their original habitats.
If it weren’t for the railroad, there would be no Rosenberg. In 1880 the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Company extended their tracks across those of another railway, creating a junction that they named after the railway’s president, Henry von Rosenberg. All that remains of this junction’s original depot, from which the town of Rosenberg grew, is the signal tower, which is now the centerpiece of Rosenberg Railroad Museum’s collection of historic railcars and other railway paraphernalia.
Representing the full spectrum of passenger railcars, the collection includes a caboose—the living quarters of a train conductor—and a Canadian government business car, which in the 1920s had been appointed to transport dignitaries and prime ministers in comfort. At the museum’s education center, an HO-gauge model train gives visitors a macro view of a rail network, and, up in the signal tower, an interlocking machine lets visitors play at train traffic control, using the same switches the towerman flipped back in 1903 to make sure only one train was routed through a junction at a time and no trains were routed down the tracks that just led straight off the edge of the world.
George Ranch Historical Park, only half an hour southwest of Houston, is more than a representation of Texas history?it?s the hundred-year story of a ranching family who lived their lives on the park?s very soil. The attractions tell their story, beginning with the Jones Stock Farm?a cattle operation circa 1830?where interpreters demonstrate old-fashioned skills amidst a traditional dog-trot log cabin. The Ryon Prairie Home unveils an 1860s image of a Texas Ranch home in the golden age of the cattle drive, and the Davis Mansion contains artifacts from Victorian-era Texas enjoyed by the wealthiest citizens of the 1890s. The final site, the George Ranch Complex, demonstrates ranching life as it happened in the 1930s, including barn structures and daily cattle demonstrations. Guides show off each building and era with historic tours, demonstrations, and living history exhibits such as a working blacksmith shop.
The park?s directors breathe life back into this history with interactive events, as well. They also schedule an array of yearly events such as military reenactments, and holiday-themed history lessons.
While many children learn by performing hands-on tasks, school systems have yet to figure out how to incorporate gardens, imagination workshops, and towering aqueduct mazes into their budgets. With 90,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits, the Children's Museum of Houston sparks creativity by allowing kids to explore 14 learning stations. Ranked No. 1 among the 10 best children's museums in the nation by Parents magazine, named one of the 12 best children's museums in the country by Forbes.com and one of the 10 best by USA TODAY, and voted Best Museum in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 by the Houston A-List Poll, the museum has accrued a lot of praise. The Huffington Post has also given a nod to the Children's Museum of Houston, which encourages children to explore their curious nature with a variety of interactive exhibits. Exhibits include the interactive EcoStation, a solar-powered outdoor utopia with activities such as stream creation and leaf rubbing that inspire kids to think about environmental responsibility. At the Invention Convention workshop, kids can explore engineering possibilities with building blocks, propellers, and even basic robotics. The sprawling cityscape of Kidtropolis invites children to participate in a simulated economy. The experience requires them to earn paychecks, budget money on pretend debit cards, vote for political candidates, and learn how to obsessively check milk expiration dates at the onsite grocery store.
Jutting above the street, the modernist lines of Rafael Moneo's Audrey Jones Beck Building echo the eclectic collection found within. Under sky openings that let in natural light and the bitter gazes of pigeons who can’t seem to get their work shown, visitors meander through galleries that span the breadth of human artistry, from ancient sculpture to modern painting. Noteworthy works from the more than 64,000 pieces include Pablo Picasso's colorful cubist Two Women in Front of a Window, Edgar Degas's achingly expressionistic Woman Drying Herself, and an untitled sketch by Jackson Pollock that shows his wild, abstract genius evolving toward his celebrated drip paintings. A treasure trove of cultural artifacts from Africa, Asia, and the Americas expands the museum’s scope and transports visitors back in time as they gaze on a palpably pensive ceramic ballplayer from Mexico's Classic Veracruz culture or a life-size royal head forged from copper for a Nigerian royal court.
**Groupon Celebrates Pride Month** Over the last 50 years, the gay-rights movement in America has overcome tremendous obstacles to become a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity. Even as it has grown, the movement—like Groupon—is local at heart, and we applaud the commitment to real change that improves everyday lives. At Groupon, we are happy to add our voices to those celebrating PRIDE, their achievements as a social movement and a continued march to equality for the LGBT community. Plus, we love a chance to dig that rainbow wig out of storage. This month—and throughout the year—we salute our merchants and customers who support PRIDE and all efforts that promote dignity, respect, and equal opportunity. We're highlighting these merchants' deals with a special badge to show Groupon's pride in working with people who share our values.