As big-city museums go, this is one of the best, with intriguing and captivating (and sometimes head-scratching) objects d’art down every hall. Located in the heart of the Houston Museum District, the Contemporary Arts Museum (5216 Montrose Blvd., 713/284-8250, www.camh.org , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Wed. and Fri.–Sat., 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Thurs., noon–5 p.m. Sun., free) is unmistakable, housed in a distinctive stainless steel building designed by prominent architect Gunnar Birkerts.
As a non-collecting museum, the facility focuses on current and new directions in art, with regularly changing exhibits and acclaimed education programs. The Contemporary Arts Museum grew steadily in the 1970s and ’80s to reach significant status in the nation’s art world with celebrated exhibits featuring contemporary still-life painting, thematic installations, performance pieces, and other mediums.
If you’re visiting on the last Friday of the month, be sure to drop by the museum’s Steel Lounge for an “art”ini while you browse the exhibits and visit the amazing shop, featuring whimsical toys and objects, large posters, decorative items, and exceptional gifts.