If you're looking for a family outing to the museum, but not in the mood to drive all the way to the actual Museum District, you're in luck. Arts appreciation in Houston extends well outside the Loop, as these four suburban spots duly demonstrate.
Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts
“We get a lot of people who come in and say, ‘I had no idea there was a museum up here!’” says Laura Baker, development and marketing director and one of three full-time staffers at this museum in Spring, which opened in 2008 and houses everything from contemporary works to French furniture to pieces by local artists. “All of Kline ISD comes in through the year—every single third-grader, for instance, will come through our museum in a two-week period,” says Baker. “It’s organized chaos.” Besides workshops, classes, and arts and crafts, the Pearl offers hassle-free parking, says Baker, and a “community feeling you may not get near downtown.”
Mon–Wed, Fri & Sat, 10–5; Thu, 10–8. Free. 6815 Cypresswood Dr., Spring. 281-376-6322. pearlmfa.org
Houston Museum of Natural Science–Sugar Land
HMNS’s suburban offshoot, established in 2009, has grown into its own as a full-fledged cultural establishment. Housing all of the subject matter its parent campus does—including paleontology, earth science and physical science wings—the museum brings in more foot traffic with each passing year. “There aren’t that many cities this size that have this type of museum,” says the museum’s director, Adrienne Barker. “It’s a wonderful thing to have so close and to see real-time, instead of hearing about it or looking at it online.” Attractions include a one-of-a-kind frog aquarium and Science on a Sphere—a huge animated globe, one of only three in Texas.
Sun, 12–5; Thu & Fri, 9–3; Sat, 9–5. $12, adults; $9, children & seniors. 13016 University Blvd., Sugar Land. 281-313-2277. hmns.org
Katy Contemporary Arts Museum
Longtime Katy resident Ana Villaronga Roman opened this space in 2013 after years of listening to her neighbors complain about the lack of culture in the area. The 60-year-old white concrete building that was originally home to Ray Woods Lumber and Supply Company now spotlights works by area artists such as abstract expressionist Roberta Harris and up-and-comers such as cartoonist Dalton Stark. “Not only do we have great shopping and great restaurants, but we’ve added culture to that pot,” says Roman. “Now there’s less of a reason for people to have to drive into Houston in the evenings and on weekends.”
Wed–Sat, 10–6; Sun, 12-6. Free. 805 Avenue B., Katy. 832-857-1340. katycam.com
Woodlands Children’s Museum
Founded in 2001, this institution was known as the Museum Without Walls before getting its own space and changing its name a decade ago. “It’s a great place for kids to get their sillies out, especially during summer,” says executive director Angela Colton, adding that the goal is to engage adults along with their children. “They don’t just drop the kids off and let them play,” she says. “There are trampolines and bouncy houses, but we are all about imaginative and interactive play.”
The museum regularly hosts activities centered around cultural celebrations like Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and the Chinese New Year, but the kids’ favorite, says Colton, is air guitar concerts. “I didn’t think that was an actual thing,” she says, “but people love it.”
Tue–Sat, 10–5; Sun, 12–5. $5. 4775 W. Panther Creek Dr., The Woodlands. 281-465-0955. woodlandschildrenmuseum.org