Last updated on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.
Houston Art Exhibit Venues
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The Menil Collection
Contemporary Art Museum, Houston
Discovery Green & Avenida Houston
Moody Center for the Arts
Lawndale Arts Center
Project Row Houses
Houston Museum of African American Culture
Blaffer Art Museum
Houston Center for Photography
Art League Houston
Station Museum of Contemporary Art
Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston
Art Car Museum
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Houston History & Science Exhibit Venues
Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Health Museum
Holocaust Museum Houston
Asia Society Texas Center
National Museum of Funeral History
The Bryan Museum
Lone Star Flight Museum
Houston Kids Exhibit Venues
Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Health Museum
Discovery Green & Avenida Houston
Lone Star Flight Museum
Whether exploring the world-class museums and installations that fill the Museum District, or venturing through thought-provoking displays found throughout the Greater Houston area, there is no shortage of exhibits that locals and visitors alike will find fascinating and engaging.
365 Houston has compiled a list of featured exhibits currently on display at museums and renowned destinations throughout the city of Houston, including free offerings that are always open to the public.
Museums and exhibit venues have been organized by prominence in both ticketed and free admission categories. They’re also listed by area of focus (art, history and science, and kid-specific) in the sidebar at the top of this page.
Current Ticketed Museum Exhibits in Houston
These current exhibits require a dedicated ticket—either included with general admission or as a separate ticket—at several of Houston’s flagship museums, including The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH), Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS), The Health Museum, Holocaust Museum Houston, and more.
Most museums offer free admission on certain days or during certain hours, though tickets to some exhibits are still required.
One of the Museum District’s crown jewels, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) routinely hosts some of the most prominent temporary exhibits in Houston each year. Joining the exhibits from the museum’s permanent collection, these curated crowd-pleasers consistently draw Houstonians and visitors alike.
- Radical: Italian Design 1965-1985 | Through Sunday, October 11, 2020 – Through furniture, lighting design, architectural models, paintings, and other objects, MFAH presents the first U.S. museum exhibition in nearly 50 years to survey Italy’s pivotal postwar movement in design history.
- Through an African Lens: Sub-Saharan Photography | Through Sunday, November 8, 2020 – This dynamic collection of photos spans from the 1950s to present, exploring the artistic styles and expression of contemporary photographers from Benin to Zimbabwe, who look to address themes of personal identity, cultural traditions, modern aspirations, and social and political issues.
- Glory of Spain: Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library | Through Sunday, January 3, 2021 – Spanning more than 4,000 years of Hispanic art and culture, this exhibition highlights works from antiquity to the early 20th century out of Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the Phillippines through paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, maps, porcelains and ceramics, and more. Tickets are $23; $18 for 65+, military, students, and ages 13 to 18; free for ages 12 and under.
Another must-see Museum District landmark, Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) is best known for its amazing halls of Paleontology and Ancient Egypt exhibit, along with the Cockrell Butterfly Center, gem and minerals hall, planetarium, and more. You can often find discounted admission to HMNS by clicking here.
- The First Game: The Birth of Basketball | Through Sunday, September 27, 2020 – Explore the history of one of the world’s biggest sports with historical artifacts that track the story of its rise from Dr. James Naismith’s rules in 1891 to its status as a global phenomenon. Included with general admission.
- Mars by Luke Jerram | Through Wednesday, October 7, 2020 – Measuring 23 feet in diameter and featuring high-resolution, detailed NASA imagery, this digital sculpture suspends above the heads of museum visitors and brings up close and personal the red planet that we typically think of as just a twinkle in the sky. Included with general admission.
- Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Through Sunday, October 18, 2020 – Returning for its 55th year, the world-renowned exhibition features stunning photography of animal behavior, spectacular species and breathtaking diversity of the natural world. This year’s iteration is culled from over 48,000 entries from professionals and amateurs across 100 countries.
- State of Water: Our Most Valuable Resource by Brad Temkin | Through Monday, January 18, 2021 – Award-winning photographer and Chicago native, Brad Temkin showcases the designs and architecture behind water systems we use every day, tracing the journey of our most valuable resource from tunnel to tap. Included with general admission.
In the Museum District, the Health Museum is a Smithsonian-affiliate kid-friendly staple that invites museum-goers to consider the human body in all of its capabilities and the ways we can keep it healthy, thanks in part to marvelous advances in medical science.
- The Hands That Feed Houston | Temporarily on view in 2020 – Shot by Houston photographer, Amy Scott, this photo documentary celebrates the farmers and ranchers that provide much of fresh produce to the Houston area, connecting Houstonians with those that feed them each day. This exhibition can be viewed online.
- Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World | Temporarily on view in 2020 – Created by Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., this exhibit examines the origins of pathogens, how they spread, and the ways to address them in a world where humans, animals, and the environment have deep, intricate connections. Included with museum admission. Tickets are $10; $8 for ages 3 to 12 and 65+; free for ages 2 and under.
- Gear Up: The Science of Bikes | From Tuesday, September 15 through Wednesday, May 19, 2021 – This interactive exhibition explores energy, forces and motion, engineering and material science, as well as providing a diverse collection of historic, peculiar and all-around amazing bikes to check out. Tickets are $10; $8 for ages 3 to 12 and 65+; free for ages 2 and under.
Through a reflective journey of the events in Europe in the 1930s and 40s, Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH) provides an educational experience that promotes responsible individual behavior, cultivates civility, and pursues social justice by exploring human rights and the horrors of hatred, prejudice, and apathy.
- Mandela: Struggle for Freedom | From Friday, September 11 through Sunday, January 3, 2021 – This multi-sensory exhibition explores the fight for justice and human dignity in South Africa during apartheid. Visitors can experience the confines of Nelson Mandela’s tiny cell where he spent 18 years, make virtual protest posters and explore the movement against racial injustice in the late 20th century. Tickets are $19; $15 for ages 65 and up; free for ages through 18.
One of twelve Asia Society locations in the country, the Asia Society Texas Center in the Museum District hosts public programs and exhibitions to increase knowledge of Asia, enhance dialogue, and generate new ideas across the fields of art and culture, business, and education.
- Joss: Works by Joseph Havel | Through Sunday, November 8, 2020 – The Houston- and San Francisco-based artist explores the function and physicality of joss paper (spirit money offerings as a means of ancestor veneration), through bronze works made in response to the ongoing Eternal Offerings exhibition, also on view at Asia Society. Admission is temporarily free.
- Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes | Through Sunday, November 29, 2020 – Displaying stunning objects dating from the Shang to the Han Dynasties (1600 BCE to 220 CE), this exhibition explores the ritual significance or ancient Chinese bronzes, and the advanced techniques in form and ornamentation. Admission is temporarily free.
Located in the historic Galveston Orphans Home, The Bryan Collection is one of the world’s largest collections of historical artwork, artifacts, documents, and exhibits relating to the American West and Texas.
- The Lost Bird Project | Through February 2021 – On the grounds of the museum, these large bronze sculptures of the Passenger Pigeon, Heath Hen, Carolina Parakeet, Great Auk, Labrador Duck and, most recently, the Eskimo Curlew chronicle these North American birds that have been driven to extinction in modern times.
Next to Ellington International Airport, Lone Star Flight Museum (LSFM) is home to more than 40 displays of significant flying vehicles, hundreds of artifacts related to the history of flight, and flying simulators. In additional, the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame pays tribute to the contributions of native Texans, including Howard Hughes and former President George H.W. Bush.
- 1945: World War II’s Last Year in Pictures | Temporarily on view in 2020 – In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of World War II, LSFM presents a photography exhibit featuring forty iconic images from the last year of World War II, capturing the reality, sacrifice, and raw emotion of the men and women who fought to preserve freedom on a global basis. Tickets are $14.95; $12.95 for ages 12 to 17 and 65+; $9.95 for ages 4 to 11; free for ages 3 and under.
- Fight to the Finish – 1945: The Final Year | Temporarily on view in 2020 – Explore the final year of World War II, in which the Allied forces took to the air to bring a close to hostilities. Witness wartime images, personal accounts and wartime artifacts that bring the conflict to reality, while the accompanying Art of Persuasion exhibition features twenty original posters that sought to rally wartime support, encourage participation in the efforts, and highlight consequences of non-support.
In North Houston, the National Museum of Funeral History (NMFH) houses the country’s largest collection of funeral service artifacts and features renowned exhibits on one of man’s oldest cultural customs. Visitors to NMFH can discover the mourning rituals of ancient civilizations, see up-close the authentic items used in the funerals of U.S. presidents and popes, and explore the rich heritage of the industry that cares for the dead.
- Icons in Ash | Temporarily on view in 2020 – NMFH further explores ways to memorialize loved ones with Icons In Ash, an exhibit of contemporary fine artist Heide Hatry’s memorial portraits, crafted from the cremated remains of the deceased subjects. Tickets are $10; $9 for ages 55+ and military; $7 for ages 6 to 11; free for ages 5 and under.
The Printing Museum in Montrose
The Printing Museum showcases and explores the importance, process, and influence of printed documents and images from the invention of paper and moveable type to today. It traces the struggle for a free press in a young United States through important advances in publishing in the 20th century and its continued relevance in the 21st. Visitors can expect to see antique printing presses, rare books, prints, historic newspapers, striking posters, and more.
- AIGA Get Out the Vote: Empowering the Women’s Vote | Virtual Gallery & Print Project | Through Wednesday, November 21, 2020 | FREE – Marking and celebrating 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, this poster initiative from American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) invited members to design nonpartisan posters calling on all citizens to vote. Viewers are encouraged to print out posters that speak to them, so they can display them and call other citizens to use their right to vote.
Houston is home to many renowned institutions like the Menil Collection, Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston (CAMH), Moody Center for the Arts, and more where you can explore current exhibits for free, with opportunities to donate to the institutions.
The Menil Collection is a uniquely beloved art museum and campus housing the permanent collection started by John and Dominique de Menil. The main building anchors a campus that also features the Rothko Chapel, Byzantine Fresco Chapel, and Menil Drawing Institute. Two further buildings are dedicated to single artists (Cy Twombly and Dan Flavin) and another to year-long installation projects.
Admission to the Menil Collection and its buildings on campus is free and open to the public.
- Wall Drawing Series: Jorinde Voigt at Menil Drawing Institute | Temporarily on view in 2020 | FREE – Commissioned as a site-specific installation at the Drawing Institute, Jorinde Voigt’s epic new work responds to the vegetation and natural resources endemic to Houston and the Gulf Coast region.
- Photography and the Surreal Imagination | Temporarily on view in 2020 | FREE – Highlighting artists from Man Ray to Lorna Simpson, this exhibition explores the way photography allows surrealist artists to reshape, question, and disturb the way we see the world.
- Think of Them as Spaces: Brice Marden’s Drawings at Menil Drawing Institute | Through Sunday, October 11, 2020 | FREE – The New York artist gained distinction in the 1960s, investigating color, abstract and intuitive gestures, and the studied imprecision of calligraphic line. In this exhibition, Marden’s work asks the viewer to explore it in two dimensions, from what’s drawn and the spaces in between.
- Allora & Calzadilla: Specters of Noon | From Saturday, September 26 through Sunday, June 20, 2021 | FREE – Drawing on the role of Surrealism following World War II, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla bring seven sculptural works to the Menil Collection, creating soundscapes that permeate the gallery space, casting shadows across the museum, and using novel sculptural materials to evoke an awe-inducing atmosphere of bewilderment and beauty.
- Virginia Jaramillo: The Curvilinear Paintings, 1969-1974 | From Saturday, September 26 through Sunday, July 4, 2021 | FREE – Calling to the fiftieth anniversary of The De Luxe Show, one of the first racially integrated contemporary art exhibitions in the United States, the Menil highlights the work of Jaramillo, who was the only woman and Latina included in that exhibition. Her eight abstract paintings feature thin, undulating lines across monochrome fields of bright, flat color.
Located across the street from the MFAH campus, the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (CAMH) hosts ever-rotating exhibitions that its curators deem the most exciting international, national, and regional art of our time. Housed in a striking stainless steel building, the museum has two galleries. Admission is always free. Donations at the door are welcomed, but not required. Please note as of Tuesday, September 8, 2020, the Contemporary Arts Museum is temporarily closed to the public.
- Slowed and Throwed: Records of the City Through Mutated Lenses | Through Sunday, January 10, 2021 | FREE – Revolving around the legacy of the late Houston legend, DJ Screw, this interdisciplinary exhibition examines the creative process of DJ Screw, his contribution to rap, and assembles a field of artists that appropriate mash-up, collage, and slow down time to emphasize how remixing of “sampled” materials is a radical aesthetic act utilized by both artists and musicians.
- Wild Life: Elizabeth Murray & Jessi Reaves | From Friday, October 23 through Sunday, March 7, 2021 | FREE – This unique exhibition juxtaposes the paintings of Elizabeth Murray (born in 1940) with the sculptural works of Jessi Reaves (born 1986) that, while generations apart, are each lyrical, playful and engage with the decorative, domestic and bodily.
Located in historic Third Ward, Project Row Houses is comprised of a city block containing 39 structures that highlight its community-based mission of supporting people, ideas, and causes while encouraging artists to extend their practice into a social context. Project Row Houses host artists during bi-annual events called Artist Rounds, in which they’re invited to utilize the structures to engage and preserve the community. Admission is free and open to the public. Please note as of Sunday, July 26, 2020, Project Row Houses is temporarily closed to the public.
- Round 51: Local Impact II | Through Sunday, September 13, 2020 | FREE – Six Houston artists have created installations for the latest Artist Round, elevating the myriad of social justice conversations taking place around the city. While the museum is temporarily closed, visitors can experience a Virtual Exhibition of the Artist Round on the Project Row Houses website.
Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) in the Museum District
In the heart of the Museum District, the Houston Museum of African American Culture engages visitors of every race and background with rotating art exhibitions, film screenings, tours, educational programming and more, that help explore and preserve the materials and intellectual culture of African and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the southwest region, and the African Diaspora. Admission to HMAAC is always free, though donations are welcomed but not required.
While it’s far from a museum, Discovery Green and the adjacent Avenida Houston are well known for their interactive, striking, and compelling public art installations. The park’s art installations are always free to the public.
- House of Cards, presented by Bracewell | Through Sunday, October 11, 2020 | FREE – Consisting of 126 giant, five-foot tall, double-sided playing cards, this work stands out on the grounds of Discovery Green, particularly at night when the crisp colors and artwork created by 20 Houston-based artists are highlighted by bright lighting. Timed, free reservations are required for weekend viewing.
On the campus of Rice University, Moody Center for the Arts is a state-of-the-art architectural beauty, hosting multiple immersive exhibitions throughout the year, as well as workshops, classes, and special events. Admission is always free and open to the public.
- Summer Window Series: Erin Curtis | From Saturday, August 1 through Saturday, September 12, 2020 | FREE – The Texas-based artist brings colorful bands and patterns to the windows of the Moody Center’s west wall. Light Shift, which evokes the strokes of painters, uses a palette of color focused around transparent shades of green to reflect on the experience of being outside, similar to standing in the shade of trees that dapple summer light all around.
- States of Mind: Art and American Democracy | From Friday, September 18 through Saturday, December 19, 2021 | FREE – Coinciding with the 2020 American election, this exhibit reflects on many of the most pressing topics facing American democracy, aiming to encourage dialogue around current social and political issues such as freedom and equality, voting access, gun control and immigration policies.
- Off the Wall: Sondra Perry | From Saturday, September 23 through Sunday, August 1, 2021 | FREE – The large-scale site-specific work, Ocean Modifier, spans the south wall of Brochstein Pavilion, offering visitors an encompassing experience of digital imagery that recreates a murky seascape, interspersed with an altered lenticular image of J.M.W Turner’s renowned painting Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On).
From its home in Midtown, Lawndale Art Center focuses on emerging, up-and-coming local and regional artists, giving them exposure in its four galleries, garden, and the massive 3,200-square-foot wall on the building’s northeast-facing wall. Admission is free.
- Marcelyn McNiel: Good Day Bad Day | From Saturday, October 10 through Saturday, January 16, 2021 | FREE – Lawndale reopens with a four-artist exhibition, viewable by appointment and with public safety considerations ahead of your visit.
- Elana Mann: Sounds from the Swamp | From Saturday, October 10 through Saturday, January 16, 2021 | FREE – Featuring three aluminum and bronze sculptures, this exhibition provides visitors a sound experience in the sculpture garden, utilizing a series of experimental musical pieces by Houston-based composers with sculptures that blend casts of the human body with bells of wind instruments to create unique megaphones, addressing a time when voices of dissent are being actively suppressed by our national government.
- Tierney Malone: Sankofa Project | From Saturday, October 10 through Saturday, January 16, 2021 | FREE – Lawndale reopens with a four-artist exhibition, viewable by appointment and with public safety considerations ahead of your visit.
- Cuyler Ballenger: Inheritance | From Saturday, October 10 through Saturday, January 16, 2021 | FREE – Filmmaker and video artist Cuyler Ballenger present a video work, incorporating elements of documentary filmmaking with contemporary visual practice that explores themes of addiction, family and labor.
On the University of Houston campus in Third Ward, Blaffer Art Museum offers free exhibits, publications, and public programming for a participatory experience in understanding the force of contemporary art.
- Rodney McMillian: Historically Hostile | Through Sunday, September 20, 2020 | FREE – Blaffer presents six video works by Rodney McMillian that collectively reconsider the contemporary ramifications of slavery, the civil rights movement, white supremacy and modern U.S. government policy embedded within our daily life.
Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) in Midtown
Opened in 2015, the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) features five stages that host 100 to 329 attendees across various spaces for performing arts productions, gallery exhibitions, rehearsal studios, and more. MATCH serves many of the smaller performing arts companies, local artists, and cultural arts organizations in the city, as well as playing host to traveling performers, musicians, artists, and theater groups.
- Tamarie Cooper’s 2020: Quarantine Edition! | Available through Sunday, September 13, 2020 – Back for the 22nd installment of her popular show, Tamarie Cooper of Catastrophic Theatre returns with a three-part video series dripping with satire, musical numbers, and wacky performances from the hilariously entertaining theatre troupe. Episodes drop on every other Friday, starting on July 31, followed by the second episode on August 14 and the final show on August 28. All episodes will be available for purchase through Sunday, September 13, 2020. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $35; the purchase of one ticket will grant access to all three episodes.
Art Car Museum near Washington Avenue
A Houston tradition for over thirty years, the Art Car Parade sends jaw-dropping cars, bikes, skaters, and motorized creatures rolling down the streets of Downtown and Allen Parkway. Founded by Ann and James Harithas, the Art Car Museum continues the spirit of the popular parade by providing exhibit space for artworks on view temporarily, as well as some of the remolded vehicles that dazzle in the yearly spectacle.
- No temporary exhibitions are currently on view, though visitors can see permanent works through reservations.
Located next to CAMH, the Jung Center offers more than 200 classes each year on topics including relationships, ethics, religious studies, expressive arts, writing, mediation and more. In addition, Jung Center also features a free art gallery with rotating exhibits from emerging and established local, regional, and national artists. Please note as of Tuesday, September 8, 2020, the Jung Center is temporarily closed to the public.
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is one of the only museums in the country dedicated to the art of making things by hand. In addition to checking out its exhibits, visitors to HCCC can witness artists-in-residence from around the country as they create original art from materials like clay, fiber, glass, metal, wood or found/recycled materials. Admission is free. Please note as of Tuesday, September 8, 2020, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is temporarily closed to the public.
- No temporary exhibitions are currently on view.
Since 1981, Houston Center for Photography (HCP) in Montrose has hosted ongoing exhibits of renowned artists, up-and-coming photographers, and students that take part in classes or workshops offered at the small visual artists’ organization. Admission is free and open to the public.
- Keeper of the Hearth: Picturing Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph | Through Sunday, January 10, 2021 | FREE – Commemorating the 40th anniversary of French philosopher Roland Barthes’ inquisitive book, Camera Lucida, this exhibition features works from many photography-based artists, writers, critics and more that contributed an image or text that reflects on Barthes’ musings on a photograph of his mother as a child—one of the most famous unseen photographs in the world.
Located in Midtown, Station Museum of Contemporary Art has spent two decades hosting local, national, and international exhibitions that seek to broaden public awareness of the cultural, political, economic, and personal dimensions of art. Admission is free and open to the public.
- No Man’s Land | Through Sunday, October 4, 2020 | FREE – This group exhibition features work from artists around the world, reflecting on the legacy of colonialism and intervention, particularly how it relates to migration and diaspora. In addition, it examines how many of today’s refugee crises, whether driven by conflict, climate or economic opportunity, can be traced back to colonial imposition.
One of the city’s oldest non-profit art organizations and a staple for contemporary visual art exhibitions and community classes, Art League Houston embraces contemporary approaches offering modern curatorial programming, community-building through art education, and outreach to the under-served communities. Admission is free and open to the public. Please note as of Tuesday, September 8, 2020, Art League Houston is temporarily closed to the public, though the current exhibitions can be viewed in a digital format on their website.
- The Writing on the Wall by Alice Leora Briggs | Through Saturday, June 27, 2020 | FREE – This exhibition displays recent works from the Tuscon-based artist that address immigration and border politics in the city of Juárez, featuring visual artwork created by Briggs in conjunction with her projects with Juárez reporter and photojournalist Julián Cardona.
- Hatsubon by Tomiko Jones | Through Saturday, June 27, 2020 | FREE – A memorial to the artist’s father, this body of work examines cultural customs, design, and materials through the ritual ceremony of hatsubon, which marks the first anniversary of a loved one’s death.
- Where We Are by Micaela Cadungog, Veronica Gaona, and Jamie Robertson | Through Saturday, June 27, 2020 | FREE – These Houston-based artists explore the ways they use their physical body as part of their creative practice—highlighting intersections of identity, race, gender and place, while emphasizing both personal and share collective experiences.
Since 1976, Archway Gallery has been Texas’ oldest artist-owned gallery, presenting monthly exhibitsuseum of sculpture, pottery, and paintings across a wide range of media and styles. Admission is free and open to the public.
- Reinvention: New works by Barbara Able & Daniel Able | Through Thursday, October 1, 2020 | FREE – This exhibition from resident artist Barbara Able introduces her son, Daniel, and present both artists’ works made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, examining how it has required and inspired both redirection and creativity. This exhibition can be viewed virtually, or by reservation at the Gallery.
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