Boy meets girl, boy must take girl on date. Girl loves fine art, wine, interesting conversation and all things sophisticated – and, therefore, expensive.
If you are a guy and want to take a nice girl out on an inexpensive date (that still comes across as sophisticated), or if you want to spend a relaxing weekend with some of your male or female friends, try some of these fun and free Houston art destinations.
The Menil Collection: One of the most expansive private collections, this free attraction has been a staple for Houston’s Bohemian crowd (as well as the rest of us) for years. The Menil Collection itself has some permanent galleries as well as temporary exhibits that are worth checking out at least quarterly. Added bonus: parking is easy to come across and free. Bring a bottle of wine and a cheese plate to enjoy before or after the museum on the extensive, shady grounds.
Also on or near the grounds are the Rothko Chapel and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum. The Rothko Chapel, dedicated in 1971 by John and Dominique de Menil, is supposed to be a place of sanctuary for people of all beliefs. Huge canvases painted by Mark Rothko flank every side of the interior, and benches radiate from the center of the building. Today, religious services as well as forums and conferences are conducted here.
The Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum is relatively new, having been established in 1997. The building is the home of the only intact Byzantine frescoes of this size and importance in the Western Hemisphere. Originally from Cyprus, thieves ripped the frescoes from a chapel and intended to sell pieces off one by one. Dominique de Menil worked with the Turkish government to find and restore these beautiful pieces. Now housed inside with an interesting glass enclosure, the frescoes are free and open to the public and are just a short walk from the Menil Collection.
Blaffer Art Gallery: One of the most sophisticated of all university art galleries, the University of Houston’s Blaffer Gallery is home to fantastic free exhibitions. Mostly featuring contemporary art, the museum promotes emerging, mid-career, and underrepresented artists and bodies of work and also hosts exhibitions, publications and public programs.
The Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden: Located directly across the street from one of the world’s finest art museums, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Sculpture Garden is considered “the most beautiful acre in Houston”. Housing more than 20 sculptural masterworks, and created in 1986 by renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi, the garden and pieces of art work together to form a serene haven in the middle of Houston’s famous Museum District.
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston: Also located in Houston’s Museum District, the Contemporary Arts Museum is just steps away from the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden. A repository for contemporary art, this museum is free and open Wednesday through Sunday and not only features fine works of art, but also hosts public and educational programs and produces publications. Check the website for the current list of exhibitions.
The Menil Collection: http://www.menil.org/
Rothko Chapel: http://www.rothkochapel.org/
Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum: http://www.menil.org/visit/byzantine.php
Blaffer Art Museum: http://www.class.uh.edu/blaffer/index.html
Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden: http://www.mfah.org/destination.asp?par1=3&par2=1&par3=1&par4=1&par5=1&par6=1&par7=&lgc=3&eid=¤tPage=
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston: http://www.camh.org/