Houston’s museums are among the city’s most popular attractions but with entry fees as high as $25 per person, some locals may be wondering if it’s even possible to see art in H-Town without breaking the bank.
Worry not, there are, in fact, several cultural attractions with very agreeable admission fees (How does $0-$6 sound?) for those who want to offset costs or museum hop without spending a small fortune.
Listed below are 14 cultural attractions that don’t charge anything at all, five that charge $6 or less and six that offer free admission days.
- Art Car Museum | Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - “The Art Car Museum is a private institution dedicated to contemporary art. It is an exhibition forum for local, national and international artists with an emphasis on art cars, other fine arts and artists that are rarely, if ever, acknowledged by other cultural institutions. The museum’s goal is to encourage the public’s awareness of the cultural, political, economic and personal dimensions of art.” 140 Heights Blvd., Houston, Texas, 77007, (713) 861-5526.
- Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston | Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - “The Blaffer is a premier non-collecting institution with a history of engaging international contemporary artists who have placed the museum at the center of a global dialogue on the arts and established the University of Houston and the City of Houston as important cultural incubators and destinations.” 4173 Elgin St, Houston, TX 77004, (713) 743-9521.
- Contemporary Arts Museum Houston | Open Wednesday-Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. - “Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) is a non-collecting institution dedicated to presenting the best and most exciting international, national, and regional art of our time. Founded in 1948, the Museum prides itself on presenting new art and documenting its role in modern life through exhibitions, lectures, original publications, and a variety of educational programs and events.” 5216 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006, (713) 284-8250.
- Houston Center for Contemporary Craft | Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - “Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is a nonprofit arts organization founded to advance education about the process, product and history of craft.” 4848 Main St, Houston, TX 77002, (713) 529-4848.
- Houston Center for Photography | Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - “Starting in 1981 as a small visual artists’ organization, HCP has grown to become an exemplary fine art organization. Our gallery — free to the public — features some of the finest works of contemporary photography. HCP also offers over 300 photography classes and workshops year-round. Varying in competency levels, these classes are all taught by esteemed photographers and lecturers, including some of the masters of the medium.”
- Houston Police Department Museum | Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. - “The Houston Police Department Museum is located in the lobby of HPD headquarters at 1200 Travis, and features unique displays and a memorial wall honoring the ultimate sacrifice made by those officers that gave their lives in the line of duty. Included among the displays are artifacts from the Honor Guard, SWAT, Mounted Patrol, badges, uniforms and other equipment utilized over the years.” 1200 Travis, Houston, Texas 77002, (832) 394-2359.
- Houston Museum of African American Culture | Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - “The mission of HMAAC is to collect, conserve, explore, interpret, and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the Southwest and the African Diaspora for current and future generations.” 4807 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77004, (713) 526-1015.
- Lawndale Art Center | Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. - “Lawndale began as a gallery space for graduate students in the University of Houston Department of Art. The programming grew to include work by hundreds of local artists and timely exhibitions from elsewhere. Extraordinary activity filled the warehouse as artists organized exhibitions, performances, and discussions encompassing a wide range of perspectives. In the early 1990s, Lawndale secured its own non-profit status and moved from Houston’s East End to Main Street and purchased the building it now occupies.” 4912 Main St, Houston, TX 77002, (713) 528-5858.
- Moody Center for the Arts | Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - “The Moody mounts three exhibitions a year in its galleries, curates numerous temporary and permanent public art installations throughout Rice’s campus, and hosts performances, conversations, classes, and hands-on workshops. All of these events are open to the public.” 6100 Main Street, MS-480, Houston, TX 77005-1827, (713) 348-2787.
- Project Row Houses | Wednesday-Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. - “Project Row Houses occupies a significant footprint in Houston’s Historic Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African-American neighborhoods. The site encompasses five city blocks and houses 39 structures that serve as a home base to a variety of community-enriching initiatives, art programs, and neighborhood development activities.” 2521 Holman St, Houston, TX 77004, (713) 526-7662.
- Rothko Chapel | Open Friday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - “The space contains 14 murals created by American artist Mark Rothko. Philip Johnson, Howard Barnstone, and Eugene Aubry were the architects. Outside, Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk rises above the reflecting pool on the plaza. The sculpture is dedicated to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose active outer life in service of social justice, informed by a deeply spiritual interior life, resonated with founders John and Dominique de Menil.” 3900 Yupon St, Houston, TX 77006, (713) 524-9839.
- Station Museum of Contemporary Art | Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - “The Station Museum of Contemporary Art is an exhibition forum for local, national, and international artists, with an emphasis on fine arts that reflects the cultural diversity of Houston’s communities.” 1502 Alabama St Houston, TX 77004, (713) 529-6900.
- The Jung Center | Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. - “Our beautiful building in Houston’s Museum District began its life as an art gallery, and we continue to program powerful exhibits in our spaces throughout the year. Visit, contemplate, and participate in the life of our gallery.” 5200 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006, (713) 524-8253.
- The Menil Collection | Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - “The museum’s collection—displayed in two-thirds of the main building and often rotated—is built around several types of art loved and collected from the 1940s to the 1990s by the Menil Collection’s founders, John and Dominique de Menil. The permanent collection highlights Arts of Africa, the Americas and Pacific Northwest, Ancient World, the Pacific Islands, Drawing, Medieval and Byzantine, Modern and Contemporary, Surrealism, and the permanent installation entitled ‘Witnesses.’” 1533 Sul Ross St, Houston, TX 77006, (713) 525-9400.
- Buffalo Soldiers National Museum | Free admission Thursdays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. - “The Center for African American Military History (CAAMH), inc., dba Buffalo Soldiers National Museum (BSNM), is dedicated to exploring and displaying the stories and contributions of African Americans in the military by way of performing and visual arts, educational programming. and exhibitions.” 3816 Caroline St. Houston, TX 77004, (713) 942 - 8920.
- Children’s Museum of Houston | Free admission Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (reservations required) - 1500 Binz St, Houston, TX 77004, (713) 522-1138.
- Holocaust Museum Houston | Free admission Thursdays, 2 to 5 p.m. - “After a $34 million expansion, the museum reopened in June 2019 after more than doubling in size to a total of 57,000 square feet. Ranked as the nation’s fourth largest Holocaust museum and fully bilingual in English and Spanish, the new three-story structure houses a welcome center, four permanent galleries and two changing exhibition galleries, classrooms, research library, café, 187-seat indoor theater and 175-seat outdoor amphitheater. With more than 50 screens, mini-theaters and interactive terminals are featured throughout the museum.” 5401 Caroline, Houston, TX 77004, (713) 942-8000.
- Houston Museum of Natural Science | Free admission Thursdays, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. - “When you visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science, you’re not just going to one place. You’re exploring tropical rainforests and worlds galaxies away. You’re going back in time to when dinosaurs walked the Earth and blasting forward to the future of renewable energy. With five floors of permanent halls and a steady rotation of traveling special exhibits, this Houston attraction will take you beyond our walls to experience the wonder and delight of science.” 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, (713) 639-4629.
- The Health Museum | Free admission Thursdays, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. - “In the heart of Houston, The Health Museum inspires passion and curiosity in health, the medical sciences and the human body. With over 2.5 million visitors, we are the most interactive and popular science learning center of its kind and a favorite among Houstonians.” 1515 Hermann Drive, Houston, TX 77004, (713) 521-1515.
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston | Free admission Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. - “The MFAH collections include in-depth holdings of Pre-Columbian and African gold, American art, European paintings, and distinguished international collections of modern and contemporary art. Particular strengths are in postwar American painting; postwar Latin American art, with a focus on Concrete and Constructive art from Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, as well as contemporary photo-based work and large-scale installations; international photography, with notable concentrations in Japanese, Latin American, and Central European photography as well as American and Western European; prints and drawings, including the entire 1980–1994 archive portfolio of Peter Blum Editions; and international decorative arts, craft, and design, in particular contemporary.” 1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005, (713) 639-7300.
Not free, but a bargain:
- The Orange Show | $5 per person, children 12 and under free - “An homage to one man’s favorite fruit, and often considered one of the most important folk art environments in existence. Visit the world famous Orange Show and traverse its maze-like expanse of steel, ceramic, concrete, and whimsy.” 2401 Munger Street, Houston, TX 77023.
- The Beer Can House | $5 per person, children 12 and under free - “A dedication to both consumption and recycling, The Beer Can House is estimated to be covered in over 50,000 aluminum beer cans. But it doesn’t stop there. Tour one of Houston’s most iconic landmarks and see why visitors from all over the world make it a point to visit this ode to brew.” 222 Malone Street, Houston, TX 77007.
- The Heritage Society Museum at Sam Houston Park | $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 to12 - “Founded in 1954 by a number of public-spirited Houstonians, such as Faith P. Bybee, her brother-in-law Harvin C. Moore, Marie Phelps, Ima Hogg and several others, to rescue the 1847 Kellum-Noble House from demolition, The Heritage Society has since saved an additional nine historic buildings, moved them from various locations to join the Kellum-Noble House in Sam Houston Park, and restored them to reflect their respective eras. These 10 buildings, along with the Museum Gallery, serve as historic reference points and exhibition spaces for more than 23,000 artifacts that document life in Houston from the early 1800s to the mid-1900s.” 1100 Bagby Street, Houston, TX 77002, (713) 655-1912.
- 1940 Air Terminal Museum | $5 for adults, $2 for children - “The 1940 Air Terminal Museum is housed in the historic art deco terminal building that once served the City of Houston as the Houston Municipal Airport. The building is now a protected landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Between Hobby Airport’s airline traffic, business aviation and frequent fixed wing and rotary wing general aviation traffic, a visit to the museum will provide each guest with a front row view of the active runways!” 8325 Travelair St, Houston, TX 77061, (713) 454-1940.
- Museum of American Architecture and Decorative Arts | $6 for adults, $4 for children - “Visitors to The Museum of American Architecture and Decorative Arts take a step back in time as they learn about the social history and material culture of people settling in Texas between 1830 and 1930. The museum provides a warm, intimate and friendly setting for the household furnishings and decorative arts which help the visitor appreciate the changes that occurred as Houston grew from a frontier settlement to a town.” 7502 Fondren Rd., Houston, TX, 77074, (281) 649-3997.
What’s your all-time favorite Houston museum and why?