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Hidden Gems: Bayou Bend Collection & Gardens

Civic leader and philanthropist Ima Hogg wanted a fitting home for her collection of early American decorative arts.

HOUSTON — One of the most celebrated art collections in the country is right around the bend in the bayou. Just by walking over a bridge (the only suspension bridge in Houston, by the way), you are transported back to the 1920s. That's when the gardens of what is now the Bayou Bend Collection were first planted and when Ima Hogg's home was built.

The civic leader and philanthropist wanted a fitting home for her collection of early American decorative arts, which included items such as furniture, porcelain and paintings.

"It’s one of the great collections of Americana in the United States," said Bayou Bend Collection curator Bradley Brooks. "Here it is assembled in this home in Houston in a bunch of lovely settings, such as the one we’re in now, so people can move through these spaces and get a sense of what these objects were like in their time and place."

The Bayou Bend Collection is one of two house museums operated by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The other is Rienzi


"Any house museum like this is worth more than one visit because there are so many levels of detail," Brooks said.

Hogg’s sprawling home is surrounded by 14 acres of meticulously curated gardens.

"There are formal elements that are on axis with the house and there are less formal aspects of the garden that are off-axis or behind the house or more tucked away," Brooks described. "So you have a variety of experiences when you come through a garden like this." 

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle, Bayou Bend is what director Bonnie Campbell calls an "oasis of beauty." 

"It is quite tucked away and if you’re driving rapidly on your way to and fro, you might easily miss our presence on Memorial Drive," Brooks said. "It takes a bit of finding, but the reward is worth the effort."

RELATED: HPD: Houston art museum intruders used motor boat to escape via Buffalo Bayou, River Oaks sewers

Visitors can take guided or self-guided tours throughout the year or watch out for special family-friendly events on Bayou Bend's calendar. Whenever you visit, you're sure to find something that piques your interest.

"Some people come to places like this and they’re enraptured with the gardens. They love the garden setting," Brooks said. "Other people are specialist collectors and they love silver or furniture or ceramics."

A visit to Bayou Bend is an opportunity to travel back in time in our own backyard.

"We would always like more people to know about the Bayou Bend Collection," Brooks said.

You can learn more about Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens here

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