Walk through the doors of any museum, and you’re entering a veritable treasure trove of latent stories from far-off places just waiting to be explored. But with much of their prominent display space devoted to specifically curated exhibitions focusing on a particular time, place, or subject, few museums have the ability to show off all the wonders they possess.

What wonders, you ask? For just two examples, the actual Winnie-the-Pooh—yes, the real (stuffed) bear that helped inspire A.A. Milne’s beloved stories—spent decades in the basement of the New York Public Library, while most of Georgia O’Keeffe’s singularly evocative and influential paintings are in storage. In fact, most museums display only about 2 percent of the objects they have in their own vaults.

Houston’s iconic institutions devoted to art, science, and history are no exception. And they boast some of the finest permanent collections around thanks to the city’s ties to the global oil industry, with its cross-cultural reach and tradition of community investment. So we asked representatives of a few of the Bayou City’s most fascinating repositories to offer us insights into some of their mainstay marvels, from the ancient to the interesting to the downright bizarre.

In This Feature:

Here's What to Look for on Your Next Trip to HMNS

The most fascinating artifacts at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

11/23/2020 By Emma Schkloven

Why You Should Explore The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum

The nation's largest repository of African American Military Memorabilia features artifacts from all over the world.

11/23/2020 By Chris Gray

Take a Peek at the Menil Collection's Treasure Trove of Art

The Montrose collection is by no means a comprehensive representation of art history, but it dives deep into different movements.

11/23/2020 By Emma Schkloven

Discover the History of the World at the MFAH

The Museum of Fine Art Houston's pieces span 6,000 years, six continents, and just about every historical period and artistic medium ever.

11/23/2020 By Emma Schkloven

The Life Stories of the National Museum Of Funeral History's Coolest Artifacts

The museum's collections are not what you'd expect.

11/23/2020 By Chris Gray