Museums in Houston

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The John C. Freeman Weather Museum, which was founded by a meteorologist whose lengthy resumé includes forecasting and research for the U.S. Army Air Force and the U.S. Weather Bureau, hosts a variety of exhibits and experiences. Groups of up to 50 people explore nine exhibits devoted to various aspects of Dr. Freeman's field, either on self-guided or meteorologist-guided tours. The attractions include the WRC-TV weather studio, where guests are encouraged to create weather forecasts using interactive weather maps and green screen technology, the cyclone room which displays images of past hurricanes and computer models of possible future storms, and a tornado chamber where guests can witness and touch a tornado created in water vapor while learning how a vortex forms.

5104 Caroline St
Houston,
TX
US

The 14-acre Bayou Bend estate, the former abode of philanthropist and informal First Lady of Texas Ima Hogg, was finished in 1928 and donated to Houston's Museum of Fine Arts by 1957. Hogg then transformed her mansion into a de facto museum, accumulating one of the largest collections of American decorative art in the world. The nearly 5,000 masterly pieces range from furniture to ceramics, and in age from Colonial America all the way to the end the Civil War.

1 Westcott St
Houston,
TX
US

The 14 massive purple-black murals by Russian-born American artist Mark Rothko that fill the cavernous space at Rothko Chapel don't just contribute to the building's name, but also to its nature. "Stepping back, waves of subtle color difference appear across the broad surfaces—leading to an unmistakable impression of physical depth," says NPR's Pat Dowell about staring into one of the colorful canvases. The experience is often a transformative one, creating within some viewers the sensation of gazing into infinity.

Commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil and designed with the input of Mark Rothko himself, Rothko Chapel was dedicated in 1971 as an independent, intimate non-denominational sanctuary. Since then, its renown has only grown; it now occupies a coveted spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Outside the Chapel, Broken Obelisk by Barnett Newman serves as a starkly elegant memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And yet, for all of its inscrutable beauty, the chapel is also a place of action—a value echoed in the chapel's mission statement. Throughout the year, public programs including concerts, storytelling, lectures, and guided meditation tackle issues of injustice and human struggle. The Chapel serves as a place for a range of interfaith services for religious communities in search of space, hosting everything from holy days and spiritual celebrations to memorial services and wedding ceremonies.

Groupon Celebrates Pride Month

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1409 Sul Ross St
Houston,
TX
US

It might seem strange to see a Gutenberg Bible page pulled using mid-1400s technology, or the Declaration of Independence being printed on an authentic 19th-century iron hand-press. At The Museum of Printing History, where local artists give live demonstrations of real, working artifacts, these sights are almost commonplace. In its mission to preserve and share the history of written communication, the organization functions as part museum and part interactive classroom. A permanent collection highlights preserved prints and gear from around the world—from ancient Mesopotamian clay tablets to Civil War-era newspapers. This collection even includes a display of equipment and documents belonging to Texas' first printer.

However, the museum's four galleries and 14,000 square feet of space aren't just reserved for relics. Every year, staff curate 12 rotating exhibits that, in the past, have covered the work of contemporary printmakers and photographers or explored the evolution of modern printing around the world. Meanwhile, an on-site print shop holds hands-on, all-ages workshops in typography, paper-making, and other forms of print-based art.

1324 W Clay St
Houston,
TX
US

At the Health Museum, you are the exhibit—literally. The permanent feature You: The Exhibit lets guests explore the ins-and-outs of their own bodies and the effects of their lifestyles. There's the Body Scanner, which reveals their internal organs in real time. There's the Feature Changer, which can digitally alter one's image to a different gender or ethnicity. And there's the Age-O-Matic, which can show onlookers what they will look like in 30 years—and how that appearance will differ if they smoke or overeat.

That educational interaction is a hallmark of the museum, which aims to spark curiosity about health and the human body in visitors of all ages. The exploratory atmosphere continues in the Amazing Body Pavilion's Texas-sized organs, such as a 27-foot intestine, a walk-in brain, and an enormous eyeball. A four-chambered heart display shows how the engine of the cardiovascular system runs, and the Scream Booth lets kids measure the pitch of their shrieks. Through these signature displays, and a varied schedule of special exhibits, The Health Museum inspires guests to explore their own inner world.

1515 Hermann Dr
Houston,
TX
US

Moon rocks. Mission control. Space suits. If it's associated with space travel in the American imagination, it's probably well represented at Space Center Houston. The 183,000-square-foot complex serves as the official visitor center of NASA'S Johnson Space Center. More than 250 artifacts, exhibits, and attractions dot the space like stars in a pocket-size galaxy, fueling a passion for science, engineering, math, and technology with authentic remnants of past space missions.

Just a few of the exhibits likely to inspire awe: a full-scale replica of the space shuttle built using schematics and blueprints; the actual mission control facility where technicians monitored nine Gemini missions as well as every Apollo mission; and select pieces from the largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples found anywhere. Space Center Houston also asks visitors to contemplate the future with exhibits that explore topics such as the challenges of successfully sending astronauts to Mars.

1601 Nasa Pkwy
Houston,
TX
US