Houston is a city renowned for its vibrant performing and visual arts scene, with hundreds of institutions dedicated to artistic expression. From the Houston Museum of Fine Arts to the Miller Outdoor Theater, the city is home to a wealth of cultural treasures. Thanks to the unshakable oil and gas market, Houston has rarely lacked benefactors eager to turn petrodollars into cultural gems. These patrons have often been tasteful and forward-thinking, with an eye for talent and an understanding of art history. The Theater District, Museum District, and other art hubs are a testament to the importance of patronage in Houston's art world.
The Houston Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH), which opened in 1924 as the first art museum in Texas, has a collection of more than 56,000 works. This includes a Byzantine icon collection considered one of the most important in the United States. The Houston Symphony has been an integral part of the local art scene since 1913, offering more than 170 concerts a year at Jones Hall, the Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands. Houston is a city that loves art in all its forms. From international treasures such as a pair of fireplace murals painted by Henri Matisse and Fernand Léger for Nelson Rockefeller to masterpieces by local legends Robert Rauschenberg and Jesse Lott, there is something for everyone.
The city's graffiti scene is also alive and well, with artists like Anguilu often referencing their indigenous heritage in their works. Archway Gallery has been operating in several locations since 1976 and was founded by and on behalf of local Houston artists. In 1959, after visiting an exhibition funded by Menil that highlighted the value of indigenous sculpture as the supreme art in Houston during the civil rights movement, architect and futurist Buckminster Fuller sent an exciting telegram to influential curator Jermayne MacAgy. His sentiment still rings true today: Houston is a city in love with art, historical or contemporary, of still life or lively, in elegant buildings or in the open air. The Lawndale Art Center was founded in 1979 as one of the only institutions in Houston dedicated to presenting contemporary art with an emphasis on regional artists. The Performing Arts Society (SPA) was founded in 1966 as the largest nonprofit performing organization of its kind in the Southwest.
The couple played a key role in developing both the MFAH and CAMH (the Museum of Contemporary Art Houston), as well as New York's Museum of Modern Art. Founded in 1948, CAMH has hosted works by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Earl Staley, Vernon Fisher, and Mark Rothko. Rothko's monochromatic base in dark shades of purple and black reflects his desire to express a universal language through his works that transcends any singular belief or philosophy. The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft was founded in 2001 as a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to promoting education about craftsmanship. It is one of the few places in the country dedicated exclusively to craftsmanship at its highest level. Harris County is home to an incredible array of cultural attractions that make it a true oasis for art lovers. From world-renowned museums like MFAH to local galleries like Archway Gallery and Lawndale Art Center, there is something for everyone.
Whether you're looking for international masterpieces or local graffiti art, you'll find it here. And with organizations like SPA providing access to performances from around the world, you can experience culture from all over without ever leaving Harris County.