One sunny, late fall day a few years ago, I had the pleasure of skipping the afternoon session of a trade show while in our state’s largest city. Knowing I needed to back in the Galleria area later that evening for a function or two related to the trade-show, I discarded a couple of ideas that would’ve had myself taking a serious day-trip, well out of the city limits. As it turned out, it was silly to even think of exiting the congested confines of what is an underrated artistic gem. Well, at least it’s underrated to many of us outside of the Gulf Coast.

Given the fact that Houston’s Museum District is as rife with time-killing goodness as it is, I highly doubt that it’s flying under the radar of any art or history-loving Houstonian. Growing up in the Ft. Worth area, as I did, it’s easy to think that everyone else in the state gazes enviously upon the historic and renowned Arts District (home to The Kimball Art Museum, among many others).

In one afternoon, I was treated to eclectic and edgy installations at the Contemporary Arts Museum, just after experiencing a more traditional, yet highly awe-inspiring visit to Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts. In fact, the Fine Arts collection is showcasing a highly-praised grouping of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work from The National Gallery, at this very time. Clearly, I focused on the art which the neighborhood offered, but the history is as prevalent and important as the collections of the museums I managed to visit. Perhaps on another trip, I’ll make it to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, or possibly to Houston’s Holocaust Museum, which is different than the one in Dallas.

There’s also something for the kiddos, too. The Children’s Museum of Houston is a colorful blast of interactive fun for both parent and child. And there’s the Houston Museum of Natural Science - which, as is the case in Ft. Worth, has an IMAX Theater.

So, next time you’re sitting in a convention in Houston, and the rest of the day’s docket looks pretty dull, act like you have to take a call in the hallway and hop in your rental and point it to the museum district!

Corpse flower gawkers unite, the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Cockrell Butterfly Center has a impending stinker on its hands. Smelling of rotten flesh, natch, and looking like the kin of Audrey 2 from ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ this 5×10′ blooming beauty is only one of 29 to bloom in the U.S.

Stinky, stinky flower

So if you feel like arming your nose with clothespin, take a gander. It’s an amazingly rare event, so says Cockrell director Nancy Greig.

For the next week or so, you can see this incredibly rare and odorous flower for yourself in the Cockrell Butterfly Center! We anticipate that the flower will be in full bloom over the weekend of July 9 – 11. In the meantime, you can follow the plant’s extraordinary growth (53 inches and counting!) and get updated predictions for when it will be in full bloom on the HMNS blog.

See the Corpse Flower at HMNS! [Amorphophallus titanum] from HMNS on Vimeo.