Even the best places have off days. This was the sentiment I had last time I visited the Houston Maritime Museum and why I held off writing a review until now. Without going into too many of the gory details, last time I went I had a bad experience and ended up leaving without going to the scheduled event. I was greatly inconvenienced and annoyed. After the apology I received from the museum, which was enough to assuage my feelings, I decided to hold off until I had another experience, which was this weekend, July 7, 2012. I am glad I did and I must say the Houston Maritime museum more than made up for the last time. So, I can say that I do recommend going, especially if a particular event or lecture coincides with a lesson you are working on.
Today we attended a presentation on the Civil War. We arrived a few minutes early and received a tour of the facility from a very nice and knowledgeable docent. The museum consists of models of ships that were used throughout history to present day. Their mission is “to capture and preserve the wonder and influence of maritime history and the marine industry with focus on the development of Houston, the Texas Gulf Coast, and the State of Texas.” They certainly accomplish this goal. Anyone studying history will have a great time seeing these models. Furthermore, the detail and craftsmanship found in the models will also fascinate anyone who has an interest in model building.
In addition to their usual exhibits, the Houston Maritime Museum holds regular discussions and presentations on a variety of topics. We plan on going to many more. The one that was put together this weekend was targeted to elementary to middle school students and focused on all aspects of Civil War battle including weapons, uniforms, etiquette and artifacts. It was presented by a group of Civil War reenactors who were dressed in period-authentic clothing. They broke up into three stations so the groups were smaller and the discussions could be informal and more intimate. The station that dealt with the Hunley, the first successful submarine, was of particular interest. All children were attentive and enjoyed it very much.
Even though this particular discussion was geared toward children, there are many others throughout the year that occur that target all age ranges from children through adults. The kids will enjoy learning about particular areas of interest and the adults can get a lot out of it also to enhance their teaching. We will definitely be back for more. The museum also offers lectures and school programs that can be tailored for your needs.
The location of the museum is their biggest negative. The museum is rather small but it is well organized. Families with very small children may want to make alternate arrangements or be prepared to hold their children as there is not enough room to carefully navigate strollers. They have only six parking spaces so if you don’t get one you will find yourself searching for a place within walking distance and may have to pay for parking. There are rumors of a move to a larger location which would be great to allow them to expand their exhibit and allow for more visitors. But, until (and if) that happens, plan ahead to make your visit as convenient as possible.
Admission is $5.00 for ages twelve and up, ages three to eleven is $3.00 and under 3 is free which makes a visit very affordable and a good bargain for what you get. Many of the lecture series are free or free with admission so you get an even better deal for those. There are also memberships available. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. It is located at 2204 Dorrington near Rice University and can be found online at http://www.houstonmaritimemuseum.org.
Note: The group that put on the presentation was Waul’s Texas Legion and can they can be found at http://www.wauls-texas-legion.com/index.html.