Museum District Day: Explore for Free!


Posted on August 25, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 5 at 2:22 PM

Enjoy a free day in the Houston Museum District on Saturday, September 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the 15th annual Museum District Day.  Visitors can hop on free bus shuttles at any participating museum and spend the entire day exploring favorite museums and discovering new destinations.

Museum District Day will feature fascinating exhibitions, hands-on activities, demonstrations and performances throughout the day.  You can even meet your favorite KHOU 11 News anchors at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Seventeen museums will waive their general admission fee to offer the community the opportunity to enjoy the District’s diverse displays of art, science, nature and history.

Participating museums include:
Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
Byzantine Fresco Chapel
Children’s Museum of Houston
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Czech Center Museum Houston
Holocaust Museum Houston
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Houston Center for Photography
Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Health Museum
The Jung Center
The John C. Freeman Weather Museum
Lawndale Art Center
The Menil Collection
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Rice University Art Gallery
Rothko Chapel
Please note – the Houston Zoo is not providing free general admission on Museum District Day.  Please visit to see when the free admission days are at the Houston Zoo.


  • Award winning architecture creates the sacred setting for the two largest, most important examples of 13th-Century Byzantine wall paintings outside the orthodox world at the Byzantine Fresco Chapel. 
  • With more than 90,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, activities abound at the Children’s Museum of Houston.  Families can learn the inner workings of electronics with a hands-on workshop Snap Circuits at the Inventors’ Workshop, make a boat at the Science Station, in the Power Science Lab “look” inside the body by putting on the “organ apron,” unleash creativity to make a drawing at the Alexander Art Academy and so much more. 
  • Enjoy docent-led tours of two current exhibits: The Spectacular of Vernacular and Perspectives 175: Marc Swanson: The Second Story at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
  • Relax at Czech Center Museum Houston.  Enjoy tours of Brno Gallery, Wenceslas Chapel, the Presidents Room, Honor/Memorial Courtyard and more.  Experience Prague International Gifts for treasures and memories.
  • At The Health Museum enjoy live science Discovery Carts, Planet You 3D film, permanent exhibits, kids activities and special discounted $10 admission to the blockbuster exhibit: Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination. 
  • Bring care package items to the Holocaust Museum Houston for a United States armed forces solider coordinated by the Houston chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc.  Write a letter of support to a solider serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.  For details about this project visit:  This event is being held in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibit, Ours to Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War.
  • At Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, meet local craft artists, shop the Contemporary Handweavers Sale and watch artist demonstrations during the annual “Gathering of the Guilds.”
  • Enjoy three exhibitions at Houston Center for Photography including: Selected People – Pelle Cass, Life Style --Adrian Fernandez and Learning Curve 5. Take advantage of a 25% discount on HCP membership.  Enjoy free audio tours of each exhibition.
  • Be part of the collaborative painting exhibition INSIDE-OUTSIDE Virtual Parade at The Jung Center.  Use an assortment of images to create a collage of yourself and add it to the community collage.
  • Explore five diverse exhibitions at Lawndale Art Center including: SOUTHERN/PACIFIC, The Power of Negative Feedback, Mexicanos, A Time to Celebrate and Detritus. Also, check out Daniel Anguilu’s mural on the north exterior wall on your drive down Main Street.
  • Visit the four floors of Permanent Exhibit Halls at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and walk among the dinosaurs, gaze at the world’s finest gem and mineral collection, visit with the resident Egyptian mummy—Ankh-hap and marvel at some amazing artifacts from several Native American cultures.
  • At The Menil Collection explore all the nooks and crannies of the main museum and its satellite buildings, as well as the special exhibitions: Walter De Maria: Trilogies featuring pristine vintage Chevy Bel-Air autos, and The Whole World Was Watching: Civil Rights Era Photographs from Edmund Carpenter and Adelaide de Menil.  
  • In addition to the vast collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, there are numerous special exhibitions and programs including: Life & Luxury: The Art of Living in Eighteenth Century Paris; Second Nature: Contemporary Landscapes from the MFAH Collection; Acid on Metal: The Art of Etching and Aquatint; The Spirit of Modernism: The John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gift to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Simpson Kalisher: The Alienated Photographer. Visitors can enter to win a prize-pack in any MFAH lobby and can take $10 off a MFAH membership. Families can participate in activities throughout the day, from sketching in the galleries to exploring on their own with a museum looking activity. Guide by Cell Audio Tours will also be available.
  • Share your memories of Hurricane Carla and Tropical Storm Allison at The John C. Freeman Weather Museum, as we remember the 50th anniversary of Carla and 10th anniversary of Allison and learn about how storms are named as you come up with your own list of Atlantic storm names.
  • Stop by Rice University Art Gallery to watch artist Ana Serrano create Salon of Beauty, an imaginary cardboard cityscape inspired by Serrano’s colorful Los Angeles neighborhood.  Relax and enjoy free ice cream and water in the shade of Live Oak trees.
  • Rothko Chapel, an internationally renowned intimate sanctuary formed around 14 monumental canvases by Mark Rothko, welcomes visitors from the world over who enter its doors for meditation, reflection, and immersion in the transformative power of art. 


  • 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Meet KHOU-TV Channel 11 anchors and reporters at Houston Museum of Natural Science.
  • 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. - Create your own electronic circuits at the Snap Circuits booth in the Inventor’s Workshop at the Children’s Museum of Houston.
  • 11 a.m. - Presented in collaboration with the Jewish Community Center, the Rothko Chapel presents vocalist Galeet Dardashti, in a lecture-demonstration on Mizrahi piyutim (liturgical poems), explaining their history and cultural significance for Jews living in the Muslim world.  Audience members will hear, learn and sing some of these poetic songs and will learn about the songs’ cultural and historical context from the Middle Ages to their new relevance in Israel over the last decade, as Israeli rock musicians have been offering their own renditions.
  • 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. - See two hilarious short films, A Dog’s Life (1918) and A Day’s Pleasure (1919), presented in the original 35 mm form and featuring the great silent comedian Charlie Chaplain. Films screen in the Brown Auditorium Theater in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
  • 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. - At Lawndale Art Center create snow globe souvenirs inspired by the exhibitions and decorate the back patio with sidewalk chalk. 
  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Witness performances about the life of a Buffalo Soldier at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum every hour on the hour.
  • 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. - Three Holocaust survivors will share their stories of tragedy and triumph at Holocaust Museum Houston.
  • 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. - Enjoy film and review of 1289 piece Czech Art Glass/Ceramics at Czech Museum Center Houston.
  • 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. - On The Menil Collection’s front promenade experience the “Divine Rhythm & United Motion” of award-winning reggae/world music band D.R.U.M. Also, while supplies last, pick-up free full-color exhibition posters.
  • 3 p.m. - Participate in Tai Chi led by Henderson Smith on the grounds of the Rothko Chapel near the reflecting pool and Barnett Newman’s sculpture Broken Obelisk.  The class is suitable for beginners and experienced Tai Chi practitioners.  Loose fitting, comfortable clothes are recommended. Henderson Smith is the founder of Living Well Therapies and is a certified instructor in Tai Chi.

Cafe Express in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Beck Building (for purchase)
Kids’ Café at the Children’s Museum of Houston (for purchase)
McDonald’s in the Houston Museum of Natural Science (for purchase)
Good Dog Hot Dogs Food Truck in The Menil Collection parking lot (for purchase)
No Border Food Truck at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (for purchase)
Ice cream, snacks and water at The Health Museum (for purchase)
Free lemonade at Lawndale Art Center (while supplies last)
Free ice cream and water at Rice University Art Gallery (while supplies last)

Free and paid parking is available within the Houston Museum District.  Please visit to view parking options.  Visitors are encouraged to park at or near one of the participating museum and then hop on one of the free shuttles to tour the District and go from museum to museum throughout the day.  Museum District Day guests can also take the METRORail to the Museum District station near the MFAH and walk to nearby museums.

Day of event flyers can be found on event day at all participating museums. In addition, they can be downloaded and printed from beginning September 12 for those who wish to plan their day in advance. The flyers list all the day of event activities, feature the bus route and stops along the way and highlight the “walkability” of the Houston Museum District, providing suggestions on museums that are within walking distance of one another.

Museum District Day is made possible by the 17 participating museums, KHOU 11, the Houston Museum District Association, ExxonMobil and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance. CultureMap Houston, Greensheet, Houston Public Radio – KUHF News 88.7 FM & Classical 91.7 FM, Houston Family Magazine, Houston Arts Alliance and RadioDisney have provided media support for Museum District Day 2011.

Please visit, call 713.715.1939 or follow the Houston Museum District on Facebook  and/or Twitter.  Please note that the member museums in the Houston Museum District have free hours and days throughout the year.  Please visit the HMD web site for details.