The Untold Museum District, Part I

With 19 institutions sharing over one hundred years of history, the Houston Museum District is home to a number of hidden treasures and untold stories. Here we share a number of these stories, giving you even more reasons to visit the Houston Museum District.

Children’s Museum of Houston

The Children’s Museum of Houston is home to a number of popular exhibits including: Power Tower, the largest climbing structure of its kind in the United States and FlowWorks, a large outdoor exhibit that teaches children about the flow and release of energy using water.

But with all that fun tucked away inside, it’s the Caryakids outside the Museum that should catch your eye. These happy children stand guard outside holding up the awning on the outside of the Museum. The Caryakids are a whimsical representation of the Carayatids, sculpted female figures serving as architectural support taking the place of columns or pillars. These wonderful figures serve to make the Children’s Museum of Houston a child-like Greek temple for the children and adults of Houston.

Holocaust Museum of Houston

Are you familiar with the Holocaust Museum of Houston’s Danish Rescue Boat, Hanne Frank? The boat was located and donated to the museum in 2007. It was transported from Denmark to become part of the Museum’s permanent exhibition, Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers. Unfortunately, the boat does not handle the Houston climate very well, and will soon undergo a full restoration with the help from volunteer marine and boating enthusiasts. But that isn’t before it gets a dose of Hollywood magic.

Led by Dr. David Stewart of East Carolina University, the Hanne Frank will be the subject of a 3-D mapping project using the same technology used by James Cameron in the iconic movie classic, Titanic. Technicians will use a combination of computer modeling, photography and hand drafting techniques will be used to reveal the innermost secrets of the rescue boat. This mapping process will become part of the exhibition, and will be useful in the future should additional restorations be needed.

Jung Center of Houston

The Jung Center sits tucked away under some trees on Montrose Avenue. However, if you step under the trees and look up in front of the building’s curves, you’re in for a surprise. Instead of leaves, you’ll see pinks, acid greens and bright yellows. You see, hidden underneath these trees is a pop up sculpture by Houston artist, Lee Littlefield.

Littlefield is known for his colorful botanical sculptures that grace many of Houston’s freeways. The sculptures hidden among the Jung Center trees are constantly changing. Littlefield adds new pieces , mostly under the cover of night. They provide an ever-changing, quirky addition to the hidden treasures of the Houston Museum District.

Lawndale Art Center

Like many of the buildings in the Houston Museum District, Lawndale Art Center has a colorful history. It was originally built in 1929 by architect Joseph Finger. Local architecture enthusiasts will recognize Finger as the architect of another Houston landmark, City Hall. The building first served as the Houston gallery of Barker Bros. architects. Afterward, it was home to the first Weldon’s Cafeteria, and featured a speakeasy on the second floor called Joe and Louie’s Nightclub. (pictured below)

After extensive restoration in 2004-2005 funded by the Lawndale Art Center’s Board of Directors, the building was awarded the 2006 Gold Brick Award by the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance. The building stands as one of the best examples of art deco architecture in Houston, and promises to stand the test of time for many generations of Houstonians.