Discover the beauty of art beyond the walls of museums, galleries, and institutions with our list of the 10 best works of public art in Harris County, Texas. Here is a collection of resources that will help you explore the area and appreciate its art. The Texas Public Art Administrators come together every November to discuss public art. The University of Texas at Austin, Rice University, Texas Technological System Public Art Collection, Houston University of Public Art, and North Texas University of Public Art all have impressive collections of public art.
The Denton Rice Design Alliance, Texas Society of Sculptors (TSOS), and UT Press Outdoor Sculpture Guidebook (199) are all great resources for learning more about public art. The Performing Arts Society (SPA), founded in 1966, is the largest nonprofit presentation organization of its kind in the Southwest. The Fort Bend Art Center, inaugurated in 2018, is a multi-artistic center with excellent works of art by more than 30 member artists on display and for sale. The Ensemble Theater, located in Midtown and established in 1976, is one of the only professional theaters in the Southwest dedicated to preserving African-American artistic expression.
Kees van Dongen's “Corn Poppy”, painted in 1919 and donated to the MFAH in 1994, is one of the museum's most popular pieces.
Located in Hermann Park, “Portable Trojan Bear” is inspired by the Trojan horse used by the Greeks to enter the city of Troy during the Trojan War. Created in 1971 as part of a series of geometric mice of different colors and sizes, “Geometric Mouse, Scale X” is located just outside the Central Library, in downtown Houston.
Smither Park, located on a half-acre plot adjacent to The Orange Show, gives visitors the opportunity to see artists in action and witness the slow evolution of a creative space. The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, founded in 2001, is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to promoting education about the process, product, and history of craftsmanship. It is one of the few places in the country dedicated exclusively to craftsmanship of the highest level.
The Bryan Museum, located in the historic Galveston Orphan Home, opened in 2015 and houses one of the world's largest collections of historic artifacts, documents and works of art related to Texas and the American West.
The Lawndale Art Center, founded in 1979, is one of the only institutions in Houston dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art with an emphasis on the work of regional artists.
“The Woman in a Purple Coat”, completed in 1937 and part of MFAH's permanent collection since 1974, is highly appreciated by museum visitors. This artwork doesn't commemorate any riots but for many people living in Houston, it has become an important symbol that links them to their history. It represents the legacy of cowboys and highlights Mexican and Spanish cultures' fundamental influence on Texas and America.
The Houston Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH), which opened its doors in 1924 as Texas' first art museum, has a collection of more than 56,000 works. An integral part of Houston's art scene since 1913, the Houston Symphony offers more than 170 concerts a year at Jones Hall, Miller Outdoor Theater at Hermann Park, and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion at The Woodlands. Harris County has an abundance of public art pieces that are worth exploring.
From sculptures to murals to installations, there are plenty of opportunities to appreciate art beyond traditional galleries and museums. Whether you're looking for something unique or just want to explore your local area, these 10 public art pieces are sure to inspire you.