The Menil Collection

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This museum holds John and Dominique de Menil’s impressive private collection, housing everything from tribal art to big-name artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, René Magritte, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Pablo Picasso.

The collection also hosts a variety of temporary exhibits, like Francis Alÿs: The Fabiola Project. With a floor-to-ceiling presentation, The Fabiola Project features 450 reproductions of a lost 1885 painting of Saint Fabiola. These pieces were collected at flea markets, junk shops and antique stores by the Mexico-based artist Francis Alÿs. 

Contemporary Arts Museum

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Next door to the Museum of Fine Arts (not free, but still great), the Contemporary Arts Museum is a non-collecting museum, meaning it primarily focuses on temporary exhibitions with a mission to feature the most exciting and intriguing contemporary art.

One exhibit currently on display is Flow , a grand installation by Korean artist Jae Ko. This piece is the latest in Ko's “Force of Nature” series and uses nearly one ton of recycled paper to represent the melting Tundra and displaced glaciers, inspired by visits to Newfoundland and the northwestern United States. 

Art Car Museum

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Most Houstonians are familiar with our city’s signature Art Car Parade, but many may be unaware of the Art Car Museum (nicknamed “Garage Mahal”) in the Heights. This museum’s main mission is to support the Art Car movement by featuring art vehicles inspired by contemporary, folk, public and fine art traditions.  

The Art Car Museum highlights the work of three artists in their Summer Exhibition 2016 series. Lowriders of Corpus Christi by Irvin Tepper explores the lowrider car culture, To Inhabit by Mark Chen focuses on fossil-fuel induced climate change and Art Car World by Tom Massimin features vivid images of art cars that have made their rounds through the museum over the years. artcarmuseum.com

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

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Charlotte Potter 

The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft primarily features—you guessed it—art made from craft materials such as clay, glass, metals, found or repurposed materials and so on. This space features an artist residency program as well as an intriguing “Craft Garden.”

One of the unique exhibits at HCCC this summer is Charlotte Potter: Glass Armory, which explores the medium of glass and the human skin as both an entryway and barrier to the body. In the foundational piece titled Armor, Potter transposes close-up images of her own skin onto glass microscope slides, carefully hanging each to form an armor-like human form. 

Station Museum of Contemporary Art

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Ajlan Gharem, Paradise Has Many Gates, 2015 

Dedicated to highlighting thought-provoking art that often questions society’s moral and ethical issues, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art features several temporary exhibits each year from artists around the world. The contemporary works on display aim to stimulate discussion among museum-goers and increase awareness of the cultural, personal, economic and political sides of art.  

This summer’s featured exhibit is called Parallel Kingdom: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia. Combining performance, installation, sculpture and more, this collection explores the complex issues experienced by today’s young Saudis as well as Western perceptions of Saudi history and culture. These works strive to open the doors to better dialogue and understanding between the Middle East and West. stationmuseum.com