Places in and Around Houston That Feel Like You've Stepped Back in Time

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Photo by Eric Mueller
A car would help to visit these places, but it doesn't have to be a DeLorean.
Sometimes the pace of modern life can get to anyone, and we long for a simpler time. Unless you have a time-traveling DeLorean, your only option for really reaching back in time is to find places that keep elements of the past alive.

Fortunately for us would-be time bandits (okay, if you can travel back in time, I don't condone stealing anything), there are a few places in and around Houston that will give us a taste of a bygone era without the need for an expensive time-traveling 1980s sports car to get there. Places like...

1. Yale Street Grill & Gifts, 2100 Yale

This Heights diner is one of the oldest left in Houston, occupying a space in what originally was the Yale Pharmacy. The diner area is exactly what one would expect from an old-fashioned malt shop, and the food and drinks are excellent diner fare. The area that used to be the pharmacy is now an antiques mall, so there's cool stuff to browse through if that's your thing. I'll be there for an old-fashioned burger and milkshake. The atmosphere is pleasantly anachronistic, and worth the lines that form on weekends.

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Menil Collection Exhibit 'A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James' Opens & Other Musings on Fashion

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Photo Courtesy of The Menil Collection
The Menil Collection opened a new exhibit this weekend dedicated to one America's greatest fashion minds. A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James is an homage to the work of couturier Charles James and one of his most supportive patrons John and Dominique de Menil. On display are pieces from Dominique de Menil's personal collection of James fashion and decor created by James for the de Menil's home in Houston.

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Dust Off the Tiara, BVLGARI: 130 Years of Masterpieces Exhibit Opens at HMNS

Categories: Fashion, Museums

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Photos by Keith Luter, Jr.
and this is just the entrance...
Bulgari, in partnership with the Houston Museum of Natural Science, has debuted BVLGARI: 130 Years of Masterpieces. The one of a kind showcase of Bulgari pieces from the early days of founder Sotirio Bulgari to the modern era will run through to October 5.

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Exploring the Changes at the Children's Museum of Houston

Categories: Museums

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Photos by Jef With One F
I had the opportunity to explore the Children's Museum of Houston for the first time in several months, and found that they'd done some significant rearranging.

The first thing that you'll notice is that several of the more fun motion-based exhibits have been moved out into the main How Does it Work? Hall. Previously a lot of them had been housed in the hall outside the Matter Factory, and most of them were very high on my daughter's favorite reasons to visit the museum list.

These include the uber fun spinning table that allows you roll plastic and wooden discs in perpetual motion if you have a daft hand (It's extremely hypnotic, actually). Several of the devices for rolling golf balls down inclined planes are featured in the slightly more crowded hall, and now all the catapult-based interactions are in one place.

It's chaotic and fun, but there honestly doesn't seem to have been a lot of thought put into the arrangement of everything. Maybe it's just because I'd gotten used to the old layout or something, but the whole thing seemed very haphazard.

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Children's Museum Offering Free Vaccinations

Categories: Museums

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The practicing of preventing deadly and debilitating illness through vaccination is currently under attack in the United States, but the Children's Museum of Houston has partnered with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services in order to make injections free to children as part of "National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW)".

"The Children's Museum of Houston provides community services through our outreach programs or through partnerships like the Houston Care Van program," said public relations and promotions director Henry Yau via email. "In fact, every August we launch a huge back-to-school vaccination initiative with Texas Children's Hospital. We offer these type of events during our Free Family Night Thursdays so families who could not afford to visit could benefit from the resources we offer."

The children who qualify for the injections are those not currently covered through Medicaid, CHIPS, or private insurance. Vaccines available include Hepatitis A & B, Meningitis, PCV 13, Dtap, Tdap (Tetanus), HPV, Polio and Rotavirus. All are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and interested parties are encouraged to arrive early while supplies last. Admission to the museum is free, and the exhibit halls are open late until 8 p.m.

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Couturier Charles James Honored in the Big Apple and Bayou City

Categories: Fashion, Museums

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Photo Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Cecil Beaton, Beaton / Vogue / Condé Nast
WOW!
If I were to mention the name Charles James to a person on the street, I might be greeted with a look of vague recollection or utter confusion. The man credited with inspiring Dior's New Look and revolutionizing dress construction by incorporating sculptural, scientific, and mathematical approaches exists in the shadows of fashion history, until now. America's Balenciaga will be the center of attention this May as his work is spotlighted in both New York City and here in Houston.

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Bulgari Bring the Sparkle to Houston Museum of Natural Science

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Photo by Sergio Calleja via Wikimedia Commons
Jewelry company Bulgari is celebrating its 130th Anniversary and the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences is playing host. Bulgari: 130 Years of Masterpieces will be once in a lifetime exhibition of 150 pieces of jewelry from the Bulgari Heritage Collection representing every period in the brands storied history, from its 1884 founding in Rome until the present day.

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Real Pirate Treasure Comes to Moody Gardens

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Photos by Lynda Rouner
Left: A recreation of the ship's bell, used to authenticate the wreck. Right: A recovered rifle
It was a weird fact to learn, but in all the history of nautical archeology there has been one, and only one, completely authenticated pirate ship wreck that has been discovered. It was the Whydah, which sank in 1717 but was discovered by Barry Cliffords in 1984. Now, the surviving artifacts from the ship are on display at the Moody Gardens Discovery Pyramid.

The Whydah started out as a slave ship. It was taken by Captain Sam Bellamy, a sailor turned pirate lord on a quest for the gold needed to marry the woman he loved. He took a fancy to the ship and made it his own personal vessel. Over the course of a year he plundered more than 50 ships using Whydah before deciding to return home with the loot and fulfill his promise to his beloved. A deadly storm made sure his promise was broken, and Bellamy was lost with his ship. Several men survived to bring the tale back to England, and only one escaped death to regale others of the magnificent Whydah.

The tale of Bellamy and his crew, including nine-year-old pirate John King, forms the background of the exhibit, with extremely well done recreations of life at sea in set pieces with mannequins serving as human reminders among the recovered bits of their life as pirates. Cannons, pistols, rifles, and real honest-to-goodness pirate treasure ate all on display along with dramatic audio descriptions narrated by their previous owners.

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The Menil Offers the Mysteries of Magritte

Categories: Museums

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The Six Elements, by Magritte.
The Setup:
John and Dominique de Menil were friends with many of the prominent art figures of their day, including the modern painter René Magritte. As a result of their patronage, the Menil Collection holds the most elaborate repository of Magritte's paintings outside of his native Belgium. In many ways, the images of Magritte are just as much a part of pop culture as they are art history. Even if one has never stepped foot inside a museum, chances are they've seen the raining men of Golconde (1953) or the word/image play of The Empty Mask (1952).

In an effort to bring audiences into a more intimate knowledge of Magritte's fascinating Surrealist landscapes and critiques of tangible reality, The Menil Collection has joined the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Modern Art to create Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938, an exploration that examines the early work of his career and identifies the Surrealist experiments that would mark the masterpieces of his later career.


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Evocative Watercolors Showcase Another Side of John Singer Sargent

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MFAH Houston/Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by Special Subscription.
John Singer Sargent, "The Bridge of Sighs" c. 1903-04.

The amazingly prolific American-born John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) had already secured his reputation and fame as the leading oil painting portraiture artist of his time. But by the turn of the 20th century, he felt the medium had grown...well...as staid and stale as some of his subjects.

So as a challenge to himself -- and to allow a more fluid and faster-paced creativity -- he began to concentrate on producing watercolors. Two exhibitions of these works at New York's Knoedler Galleries in 1909 and 1912 (curated by the artist himself) were massive successes.

The entire group of Sargent's works at each show was purchased by the Brooklyn Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, respectively -- the latter before it even opened to the public.

Now, more than 90 of what one contemporary critic called "swagger watercolours" from both exhibitions come together in the MFAH's "John Singer Sargent: The Watercolors."

"At the turn of the century, Sargent was at the top of his game, but he felt he had achieved all he could in portraiture," says Kaylin Weber, assistant curator of american painting and sculpture at the MFAH.


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