Our first group of stops on our Culture Quest were those in the Museum District. This made sense because they were within walking distance of Rice, so we could visit them all relatively quickly before striking out for more distant destinations.
The first stop was the Log Cabin, which is located in front of Ben Taub Hospital at the corner of McGregor and Ben Taub Loop. The cabin is officially known as the "Pioneer Memorial Log Cabin Museum”, this log cabin was built in 1936, at a different location, to get ready for the Texas Centennial celebrations. It is owned by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and has various exhibits inside, although we did not stop for long enough to see them. The funniest thing about this cabin was the fact that I drive past it every time I drive home from university, yet this was the first time I actually saw it! You'd think a log cabin in the middle of one of the largest medical centers in the country would stick out more than that, but obviously not.
After my friends copied down the names on the plaque on the porch, we were off again. As I drove past Hermann Park - a nice oasis in the middle of the concrete city, as long as you aren't there at night - we made plans for the next places on our list. As soon as I found a decent stopping point that wasn't in the middle of traffic, the three other people in the car jumped out and took off to three different locations. As they ran towards the Japanese Gardens, the Butterfly Museum, or Sam Houston's statue, I was left circling the roundabout outside the Museum of Natural Science. I'm sure there were at least a few confused people sitting outside the museum that saw me drive past at least 10 times.
Tiffany was the first person back, since Sam Houston's statue, her location, stood in the middle of the roundabout I was circling. She found out that Sam Houston was not only one of the most controversial figures (in Texas history), but also one of the most colorful. We continued circling until Emily came running back from the Japanese Gardens (which are of daimyo style, and includes a tea garden, a kaiyushiki stroll garden, and a scroll garden). The gardens were by far the furthest away from our drop off point, since they are in the middle of Hermann Park. Since Nancy was still in the Butterfly Museum, we popped over to the Holocaust Museum, located at 5401 Caroline St. This sombre museum is dedicated to teaching the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy using the Holocaust and other genocides. Some permanent memorials include a collection of shoes from a concentration camp in Poland and one of the railcars that took countless people to their deaths.
After quickly reading the plaque outside the museum, stating when it was dedicated, we went back to pick up Nancy. Unfortunately, she had been unsuccessful in finding out which of the plants featured in the Demonstration Butterfly Garden is both a nectar and host plant for the butterflies, but we later found out that her guess of "milkweed" was right! However, she did manage to get into the Butterfly Garden, which is the glass cone by the entrance to the Museum of Natural Science that contains a rainforest and exotic butterflies, for free so she could look for the answer, even though we later found out it was on a plaque just outside the entrance!
Our last stop in the Museum District was the Lillie & Hugh Cullen Sculpture Garden, located at the corner of Montrose & Bissonnet. This garden is a part of the Museum of Fine Arts, and its website describes it as "the most beautiful acre in Houston." It really is "an oasis tucked inside a teeming metropolis," and a wonderful place to have a stroll and enjoy the numerous sculptures the garden has to offer. Unfortunately, we were not there long enough for a stroll - indeed, we were only there long enough to get the full name off the sign - but I will definitely be returning before I leave Houston permanently.
From the Sculpture Garden, we continued down Montrose towards the many Montrose area locations on our list. I have described these in my "Montrose Area" entry.