Texas Museums Bucket List

Recently I wrote out my bucket list of the top five museums across the United States that I most want to visit. Closer to home, I’ve been to most of the major museums in Texas’ large cities. But an investigation into just how many art and part-art museums there are in the Lone Star State has blown my mind. After wading through this exhaustive list, I’ve narrowed down my bucket list to five. Some are in small towns, while others are big cities where other attractions have drawn my attention away for years.


Sunrise on the Prairie, 1885, by Frank Reaugh. Panhandle Plains Historical Museum.

Panhandle Plains Historical Museum

This museum piqued my interest after I read a few years ago that it has some watercolors by Georgia O’Keeffe, left over from when she taught art in Texas, early in her career. Upon further investigation, the museum has a number of other works I’d like to see. The collection focuses on the southwest, and includes an entire gallery of pieces by Texas Impressionist Frank Reaugh. (I learned a lot about Reaugh when I was writing for the Harry Ransom Center; see my Reaugh articles here and here.) It also holds examples of western art from Santa Fe and Taos, as well as a gallery of western illustrations.

Sir Winston Churchill, 1958, by Leo Michelson. Michelson Museum.

The Michelson Museum

Reading about the genesis of the Michelson Museum in the small east Texas town of Marshall fascinated me. It was created to house more than 1,000 works of Russian-American artist Leo Michelson, who never lived in Texas! His widow, who lived in New York and Paris (France, not Texas) selected the small town for her husband’s works on recommendation of friends from Marshall.

In addition to Michelson’s work, the museum houses a donated collection of 20th-century art as well as a collection of African masks and Chinese opera puppets! I need to see this for the sheer diversity and novelty factors.

Round and Round by Kaffe Fasset. Texas Quilt Museum.

Texas Quilt Museum
La Grange

I try to fight it, but sometimes I can be an art snob. Luckily, the older I get, the more I seem to mellow out and further appreciate the beauty and skill in so many kinds of folk art. Especially quilts, which display extraordinary skill and come in so many pleasing colors and patterns.

The Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange looks like a great place to take a quick day trip to from Austin.

Portrait of Queen Mariana by Velasquez, 1656. Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Algur H. Meadows Collection, MM.78.01

The Meadows Museum

The Meadows Museum is on the campus of Southern Methodist University in downtown Dallas. It holds a world-class collection of Spanish masterpieces, which gives it the nickname the “prairie Prado.” Evidently Algur H. Meadows was a businessman who had to travel to Spain a lot, and ended up loving and collecting Spanish art. His donation to SMU forms the basis of the museum that now bears his name.

Currently, the Meadows is hosting a show of works by Salvador Dalí called Poetics of the Small, 1929-1936. How have I missed this place until now?

Photo by Jane Walker on show in Learning Curve at Houston Center for Photography.

Houston Center for Photography

I’ve wanted to visit the Houston Center for Photography for some time. I’ve looked at the striking images of their juried shows online fairly often. I don’t know a lot about photography, but this seems like a great place to learn more. And it’s right around the corner from the Museum of Fine Arts Houston — I’ve passed by it many times without going in! Next time.

Have you visited any of these museums? What are your tips? And are there other places in Texas you’d recommend as worthy of a road trip? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Homepage image by Anne Duncan in Learning Curves at Houston Center for Photography.


Published by Rebecca Johnson

Writer and editor covering arts and culture in Austin, Texas and beyond.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: