Does Houston need another museum?

In a city so rich in its own history, art, energy, technology and patchwork quilt of ethnic groups that it has its own Museum District, a steering committee organized by the Houston Institute for Culture is weighing whether our town needs another multimillion dollar museum.

The focus? To tout our town’s diverse cultural heritage, hence the proposed name: The Houston Museum of Culture.
Fundraising hasn’t begun yet and no site has been selected, but a small group of people under the institute’s guidance have begun to meet monthly to study the idea. This small group of about 30 people so far are also forming subcommittees for things like defining “culture.”

The most popular definition so far is that “culture” will in this case be a big enough tent to focus on the city’s history, media, religion, arts and entertainment, language, environment and economics — things that effect Houstonians’ way and quality of life.

Part of our local culture, for example,  is that we are already blessed with some fine museums. 

We have the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (with a budget of $81 million), Houston Museum of Natural Science ($23.5 million), Space Center Houston, Menil, Buffalo Soldiers, etc., plus the cultural kingpin of our fair town, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ($77 million).

The exploratory committee for the culture museum is envisioning — at least they were at the one meeting I’ve attended a few weeks ago ago — a hub for academic, social, historical and technological organizations, as well as for artists, musicians, schools and community advocates that would benefit tourists (and possibly teach us a thing or two about our own hometown).

It is because of Houston’s richness of diversity, its languages and ethnic flavors that have given the city its destiny as a portal to the global marketplace.

Envisioned, should fundraising prove successful in these dire economic times, is no mere exhibit-and-artifact center, but a living, vital place with rehearsal and performance halls — possibly a midsize theater, research library and plaza, much like the Institute for Texian Culture, that would spotlight Houston as a Mecca for energy, transportation, rural music, immigration and globalization. It would do this through — again, potentially — permanent, rotating and touring and exhibits, collections, presentations shared with — and from — other organizations and institutions.

But even if the “preliminary-potential- possible-projected” stages are worked through and this thing jells into a real committee with a real capital fundraising campaign, don’t go looking for admission tickets to this museum anytime soon.

The first possible opening date would be sometime in the spring of 2019.
That will give you plenty of time to ponder the question I posed in the title of this blog:

Does Houston need another museum?

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