CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF HOUSTON
1500 Binz Street, 713-522-1138
FREE Family Nights, Thursday 5-8 p.m.
Bring spare clothes – children love splashing around the popular interactive water exhibit called FlowWorks. It’s one of fourteen areas that can keep kids engaged for hours. For infants and toddlers, there’s the Tot Spot on the second floor. On the main level, Kidtropolis is a dream play city complete with police department, bank and veterinary clinic, even a supermarket and restaurant fully equipped play food. Downstairs at the Invention Convention, kids are supplied with tools and materials and challenged to tinker and design their own creations.
HOUSTON MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE
One Hermann Circle Drive, 713-639-4629
FREE General Admission Tuesday after 2 p.m.
Warning: fluttering wings may tickle your cheek as you stroll through the The Cockrell Butterfly Center, home to hundreds of exotic butterflies. Dinosaur fans can head straight to the new 30,000 square-foot Hall of Paleontology which displays more than 30 dinosaurs in “action” poses including the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Triceratop. Families can go on a Prehistoric Safari, viewing about 60 large mounts and 750 fossils. The Gems & Minerals exhibit display more than 750 crystallized mineral specimens, while the Smith Vault showcases a collection of jewelry set with some of the largest and finest gemstones in the world. Shows and schedules vary for the Planetarium and the Giant Screen.
HOUSTON MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE – SUGAR LAND
13016 University Boulevard, 281-313-2277
“Sugar Land Stan” is the Tyrannosaurus rex that welcomes visitors curious about dinosaurs. Kids can search for dinosaur fossils in the Dig Pit. Giant geodes and fluorescent minerals are on display. Educational shows are scheduled every half hour at the Digital Domed Theater.
MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, HOUSTON
1001 Bissonnet Street, 713-639-7300
FREE Thursday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Head straight downstairs to the Kinder Foundation Education Center (KFEC), and pick up a Family Pack. Family Packs are bags filled with puzzles, games and books that visitors may borrow to help parents engage their kids as they walk around. The KFEC can provide information about any of the more than 63,000 pieces at the museum. The world-renowned collection includes paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Rembrandt Van Rijn. At the Sunday Family Zone & Studio, children learn about a selected “Focus Work of Art,” and are encouraged to create artwork with a rotating inventory of materials at the MFAH Creation Station.
MFAH CULLEN SCULPTURE GARDEN
Montrose Boulevard at Bissonnet Street
The sculpture garden features 25 masterpieces including works by Henri Matisse, Frank Stella, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, David Smith, Louise Bourgeois and Ellsworth Kelly.
MFAH BAYOU BEND COLLECTION AND GARDENS
6003 Memorial Drive, 713-639-7750
Bayou Bend is the MFAH house museum for American decorative arts and paintings. The mansion was the home of Ima Hogg, and sits on 14 acres of gardens and woodlands.
1406 Kirby Drive, 713-639-7800
Rienzi is the MFAH house museum for European decorative arts. It was the home of Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III.
HOUSTON FIRE MUSEUM
2403 Milam Street, 713-524-2526
This 1898 building is the first fire station built by the Houston Fire Department. Families can learn about fire prevention and safety as well as antique fire equipment and artifacts. Visitors especially enjoy 1895 Ahrens Fox horse-drawn steamer and a 1937 Chevrolet pumper. Birthday parties can be scheduled.
THE HEALTH MUSEUM
1515 Hermann Drive, 713-521-1515
FREE Thursday after 2 p.m.
The interactive exhibits foster curiosity about healthy, medical science and the human body. Activities include displays highlighting the human body and how it works, educator-led organ dissections, health fairs and science discovery labs.
THE JOHN C. FREEMAN WEATHER MUSEUM
5104 Caroline Street, 713-529-3076
Families can learn about everything related to weather, from math and science to history and safety. Kids can create a DVD of their own weather forecast at the Weather Studio. They can check out satellite and radar images of storms and hurricanes, as well as actual video of tornadoes and hurricanes.
ASIA SOCIETY TEXAS
1370 Southmore Boulevard, 713-496-9901
Families can visit the galleries and gardens to learn about Asian culture, art, geography and traditions. Asia Society Texas hosts exhibits, workshops, film screenings and other special-themed events. On Family Days, parents and children can participate in a range of hands-on activities.
ART CAR MUSEUM
140 Heights Boulevard, 713-861-5526
Five art cars are on exhibit at any given time. The art cars displayed are changed every three months.
HOUSTON CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY CRAFT
4848 Main Street
The exhibits include objects made primarily from craft materials including wood, metal, glass, clay, fiber and recycled items.
On the first Saturday of every month, the museum features “Hand-On Houston, a free craft activity open house for families.
THE MENIL COLLECTION
1515 Sul Ross Street, 713-525-9400
The museum is a gift from John and Dominique de Menil to the world. The couple acquired about 16,000 works of art during their marriage. The collection pieces are on rotating display at the museum.