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The vision of philanthropists, John and Dominique de Menil, The Rothko Chapel is a block away from the extraordinary art museum, The Menil Collection. The abstract expressionist Mark Rothko created 14 immense paintings for the sacred space, and the meditative aura that resulted is the true definition of tranquility. Renowned architect, Phillip Johnson, along with Houston's own Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubrey designed the octagonal brick structure that overlooks Barnett Newman's sculptural tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Free to all and open to people of all beliefs, the independent site made it to the official National Register of Historic Places.
If you're an art aficionado and a nature buff, you simply can't miss out on a visit to the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, also known as the Cullen Sculpture Museum. Handpicked sculptures from the 20th and 21st centuries are artfully displayed on the grounds of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH) Houston, the collective creative geniuses of artists such as Henri Matisse and Auguste Rodin shining through. The setting for this sculpture display, a lush artwork of nature itself, is the brilliant brainchild of Isamu Noguchi and landscape architect Johnny Steele, who selected native plants like Loblolly Pines and Drake Elms. These trees, along with nearly 80 others, frame the priceless sculptures on display.
Houston will be forever grateful for George Hermann's generous gift of land in the early 1900s. The park spans over 445 acres (180 hectares) and is one of Houston's oldest public parks. People from all walks of life gather here for various events throughout the year. A monstrous statue of Sam Houston welcomes you to the park. Those seeking an educational outing for themselves or the kids will find many options inside the park. The Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, Burke Baker Planetarium and an IMAX theater are all popular attractions. Lighter family entertainment is available in the form of pedal boats, train rides and other activities.
Bayou Bend is the former home of Ima Hogg, a famous philanthropist. Visitors can wander through 14 acres of woodlands and formal gardens, or check out the house that contains 4,800 various works of art. This art represents the American style from colonial to mid-19th Century. The house is a lovely lifestyle museum of that century. Please take note that children under ten years of age can wander the gardens but are not allowed in the house.
Standing stoically among 18 acres (7.28 hectares) of oak trees, the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park (formerly known as Williams Water Wall) has amazed visitors since its 1985 opening. The Waterwall sends 78,500 gallons of water down its face every three hours, utilizing a recycling mechanism that continues the torrent until the lights are turned off at the end of the day. Visible from many of downtown Houston's buildings, this attraction has become something of an icon with locals. Perfect for a romantic stroll, picnic, or reflective moment, Williams Water Wall is a great stop in the area.