Multicultural Attractions in Houston

Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts (MECA)

MECA’s mission is to promote the social, cultural and academic development of at-risk, inner-city youth through education in the arts. MECA offers classical and ethnic arts education, sports and recreation and support services to approximately 3,000 students a year through the In-School, After-School, and Summer Arts Programs. MECA has served Houston’s First Ward, Sixth Ward, Near Northside, and Heights Districts since 1977, providing a variety of arts education opportunities, community performances, public art and cultural celebrations.

The Old Sixth Ward Fun n’ Food Fest, a citywide celebration of the diverse cultures represented in the First and Sixth Wards, was the impetus for what is now known as MECA. This annual festival originated in September 1977 at St. Joseph Church. Community leader and music educator Alice Valdez was asked to develop a special program that would build upon the community spirit created by the festival and provide year round fine arts activities and alternatives for children and youth in the community. As a result, and at further recommendation of the Cultural Arts Council of Houston, the festival organization merged with the Alternative Arts Education Program to become St. Joseph Multi-Ethnic Cultural Arts.

1900 Kane, Houston TX, 77007

Forbidden Gardens

Forbidden Gardens is an outdoor museum north of Houston that replicates some of China’s major historic scenes, including:

Terra Cotta Army

Claimed by many to be the Eighth Wonder of the World, the terra-cotta army was discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well near the tomb of Emperor Qin. Forbidden Gardens has 6,000 1/3 scale terra-cotta soldiers in formation as they were buried in the 3rd century BCE.

Forbidden City

This black-roofed palace was a vacation getaway for those who lived and worked in the Forbidden City. Built in the 1700s, this location was ideal for scholars and guests to rest, reflect, and get back to nature. Come walk around the Lodge and feel the relaxing sensation that it brought the Emperors and Empresses throughout the years.

Weapons Room

This exhibit contains replicas of some of the weapons discovered with the terra-cotta army. The excavation of the terra-cotta pits also allowed historians to learn a great deal about the technology of the era.

Architecture Room

The classic architecture in this exhibit are replicas of the Chinese palaces of the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City, located in Beijing, was built between 1406 and 1420 and contains over two hundred and fifty acres of palaces and government buildings. The scale of the models is 1/20.

23500 Franz Road, Katy TX, 77493

American Cowboy Museum

The mission of the American Cowboy Museum is to preserve the western heritage of Native Americans, Blacks, Hispanics and women. Housed in an area of the Century-Euro Taylor Stevenson Ranch, the museum offers tours, exhibits, oral historians who offer stories and lectures dressed in native attire and hands-on activties.

The founder, Mollie Stevenson, Jr. and her mother were the first living African Americans inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, Texas. In 1988, Mollie Stevenson, Sr., and Mollie Stevenson, Jr. founded and continue to operate the museum in the effort to preserve the multicultural history of the West.

Taylor Stevenson Ranch, 11822 Almeda, Houston TX, 77045

Ensemble Theatre, The

The Ensemble Theatre is the largest African-American professional theatre company in the U.S. that produces in-house and owns its own facility. Each year the theatre presents a repertoire of critically acclaimed dramas, comedies and musicals that demonstrates the artistic ability of more than 250 professional local, regional and national artists and support staff.The theatre also has an educational touring program and a summer young performers training program.

The theatre is a non-profit organization that houses three stages located on Main Street in the heart of midtown, with a METRORail stop named in its honor.

The Ensemble Theatre was founded as a touring company in 1976 by the late George Hawkins.

3535 Main Street, Houston TX, 77002

Talento Bilingüe de Houston

Founded in 1977 as “Teatro Bilingüe de Houston” (Bilingual Theater of Houston), this non-profit organization has evolved into a Latino Cultural Arts Center that has offered programs and activities such as mariachi, ballet folklorico, video and film production, professional theater, art exhibitions, festivals, and photography.

Talento Bilingüe de Houston is located in a 16,000-square-foot facility leased from the City of Houston Convention and Entertainment Facilities Department. The facility has a 300-seat theater, rehearsal room, art exhibit and gallery space, gift shop, video and film editing suite, photograph and darkroom space.

333 S. Jensen Dr., Houston TX, 77223

Ten Thousand Villages – Houston

Ten Thousand Villages provides a marketplace for fairly traded handicrafts and promotes cross-cultural experiences and understanding. Through sales, the store’s customers improve the economic life of artisans and their families by providing income for food, education, health care, and housing.

Currently there are over 60,000 artisans and their family members in Asia, Africa, Central America and the Middle East depending on Ten Thousand Villages stores in North America to do good work on their behalf. Over 70 percent of artisans are women.

Ten Thousand Villages Houston opened in Rice Village in 2000. Ten Thousand Villages Houston is one in a network of over 100 Ten Thousand Villages fair trade retail outlets in North America.

2424 Rice Blvd., Houston TX, 77005

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum

The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated primarily to preserving the legacy and honor of the African-American soldier. It houses the largest repository of African-American military history in the world.

The 10th cavalry, an all African-American Army unit, was nicknamed Buffalo Soldiers by Cheyenne warriors in 1867 out of respect for their fierce fighting ability. Over time, the term Buffalo Soldier was applied to all African-American soldiers.

The mission of the museum is to interpret, articulate, collect, display and preserve historical artifacts, documents, videos, prints and other historical memorabilia which detail the history of the brave men and women who overcame extreme adversity while gallantly fighting the great American wars.

Admission is $2 per person.

1834 Southmore, Houston TX, 77004

Czech Center Museum Houston

The Czech Cultural Center celebrates the culture of Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia and Silesia with events and exhibitions. The center features language classes, a museum, archives, genealogy resources, event facilities, library and an ecumenical chapel.

Exhibits include Czech crystal, glass, porcelain, pottery, antique furniture, jewelry, folk costumes and fine art.

4920 San Jacinto, Houston TX, 77004

Shrine Bookstore and Cultural Center

Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center & Bookstore (“The Shrine”) is one of the nation’s largest and oldest black-owned bookstores, with locations in Detroit, Atlanta and Houston. The Shrine Bookstore is a non-profit institution that opened in 1970 with the goal of showcasing the creative talents of artists & authors of African descent and empowering people through educational workshops and cultural events. In addition to containing one of the largest selections of books related to the Black experience, the Shrine is also home to the Karamu Art Gallery and the Black Holocaust Museum.

In addition to literary materials, the Shrine Bookstore also carry a wide assortment of African clothing, hand-crafted jewelry, artist prints, African-American collectibles, greeting cards, gift items and much more.

Opened in 1986, The Houston Cultural Center & Bookstore has been at the center of the African Diaspora experience in the 4th largest city in the country for over 20 years.

Black Inventor’s Display

The Black Inventor’s Display features replicas of the many inventions patented and produced by African-Americans. From the early 19th century through the present, African-Americans have created over 125 patented inventions, including the mailbox, toilet, the spotlight and many more.

African-American Holocaust Museum

The African Holocaust Exhibit (formerly known as the Black Holocaust Exhibit) is a collection of more than 100 primary documents, artifacts and compelling images that tell the story of the slavery and the horrors of the middle passage. The collection includes bills of sale, wills, newspaper notices for run-a-way enslaved, letters from slave traders, slave shackles and more.

Karamu Gallery

For more than 35 years, the Shrine Bookstores’ Karamu Galleries have been showcasing the exquisite works of some of the world’s most talented artists. They have one of the most extensive collections of authentic museum-quality art from people of color in Africa, the Caribbean, North America and South America. Karamu Art Galleries also feature art and sculptures from renowned African-American artists such as Ernie Barnes, Carl Owens, and Brenda Joysmith.

5309 M.L.K. Blvd., Houston TX, 77021

Asian Heritage Tours

Asian Heritage Tours in Houston’s booming Asiatown in Southwest Houston highlight the best of Asian culture, including tea tasting, herbology, Chinese calligraphy, Dim Sum, shopping, and Buddhist temples.

Houston’s Asiatown began as a small Chinatown in downtown Houston with the opening of the store Quong Yick in 1926. At that time, fewer than 200 Chinese lived in Houston. Today, Chinatown has expanded to include other Asian cultures and has moved from downtown to southwest Houston.

Asian Heritage Tours, which can be tailored to each group, can include any of the following:

Tea Tasting and Herbology

Sip freshly brewed tea while learning to brew the perfect cup. Distinguish among exotic varities of tea and discover the health benefits of herbal remedies.

Chinese Calligraphy

The art of Chinese calligraphy is practiced by skilled artists and takes many years to perfect. Each guest is encouraged to try his/her hand at writing simple Chinese characters. Receive a souvenir of your name written in Chinese calligraphy.

Dim Sum

Pick and choose from any piping hot appetizer-portion dishes presented on carts wheeled around the banquet hall, from turnip cakes and mango pudding to shrimp dumplings and spring rolls.

Shopping

Shop at the largest indoor Asian shopping mall in the southwest, with nearly 30 stores among lily ponds and fountains. Hong Kong City Mall is the perfect place for unusual finds.

Buddhist Temple

Guests will be enlightened on the practice and teachings of Buddhism at a traditional Buddhist temple. Guests may light incense and give offerings of paper money and fruits to their ancestors.

Shao Lin Kung-Fu

Guests may take an introductory class in Shao Lin Kung-Fu, which was first developed in the third century in Shao Lin temples in remote areas of China. As the style grew, other forms such as Tai Chi were asorbed and incorporated.

Tours are by appointment and can accommodate small and large groups.

5855 Sovereign Drive, G #101, Houston TX, 77036

Project Row Houses

Project Row Houses is a highly acclaimed art and cultural community center consisting of 22 renovated shotgun-style homes.

With the financial and material resources of Houston’s corporations, foundations and art organizations, volunteers have been able to renovate the site of 2500 Holman and the twenty-two shotgun houses that sit upon it. Ten of the twenty-two row houses are dedicated to art, photography and literary projects, which are installed on a rotating six-month basis. When a group of artists is commissioned, each is given a house to transform in ways that speak to the history and cultural issues relevant to the African-American community. Located in seven houses adjacent to those dedicated to art, The Young Mothers Residential Program provides transitional housing and services for young mothers andtheir children.

Project Row Houses is free and open to the public for tours Wednesday through Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.

2500 Holman, Houston TX, 77004

Kuumba House Dance Theatre

Kuumba House is a performing arts company that preserves, creates, teaches and presents the cultural experience of African art forms through dance, theatre, music and other creative expression.”Kuumba” is a Swahili word which means “creativity.”

It is the vision of Kuumba House Dance Theatre to see African dance forms thrive and grow both artistically and professionally in the city of Houston as well as throughout Texas and the United States.

Performing Companies

Kuumba House Dance Theatre performs a repertoire of South African, West and East African traditional and contemporary dances, touring throughout the United States of America.

Kuumba House Singers and Drummers perform songs from the African Diaspora enhanced by live drumming and other indigenous instruments.

Kuumba House Children’s Theatre takes African themed theatrical shows to schools and the general public.

Kuumba Kids is a showcase group of talented youth who perform at various functions and venues, including schools, churches, museums and festivals.

3001 Cleburne, Houston TX, 77004

Express Children’s Theatre

Express Children’s Theatre creates and presents professional performing arts for children and their families, to honor the curiosity and complexity of young minds with innovative productions of high quality celebrating Houston’s diverse culture.

Express Theatre was founded in 1991 with two shows, four actors and a shoestring budget. This season the theater will present more than 300 performances in venues all over Southeast Texas. Express has already touched more than 2 million young lives through its mission of creating and presenting professional, culturally diverse performing arts for children and families.

446 Northwest Mall, Houston TX, 77092

Gite Gallery, The

The Gite Gallery provides fine African art, including paintings in oil, acrylics, pen and ink, watercolors, and charcoal. All pictures are originals and are custom framed. The gallery also carries a variety of masks, statues, textiles, baskets, furniture, and Shona sculptures.

The Gite Gallery inventories over seventy artists. These African artists range along the African coast from Sengal’s Kre’ Mbaye to South Africa’s Peter Ziyo Sibeko. There are pieces that represent regions and tribes from the Cameroon Grasslands, Benin, Zimbabwe, Senufo, Dan, Kuba, Massai, Hassan, Baule, Mali, Zulu, Ashanti, Bobo, Bwa, Dogon, Baga, Fang, Gabon, Nupe, Bozo, Turkana, Tonga, Mende, Igbo, Makonde, and more.

2024 Alabama St., Houston TX, 77004

Casa Ramirez Folk Art

This gallery, located in the Houston Heights, exhibits and sells all kinds of Mexican craftwork, from portraits, antiques, ceramics, clay, metal and wood artifacts and figures to the most varied artistic elements.

241 West 19th Street, Houston TX, 77008,

Name: Community Artists’ Collective

Community Artists’ Collective is a community center that focuses on art education, community development, entrepreneurship, and exhibition, displaying local and national African American artists’ works in its downstairs gallery and making art education more accessible to the community via classes in its facility upstairs.

The Collective fills a void in Houston’s cultural landscape by providing programs that encourage the growth and development of the human spirit through the visual arts. Founded in 1987, it provides a “safe haven” to constructively engage children, adults, and families in the creative process and give individual attention to its development.

The Collective offers a wide array of art programming, including painting, photography, mixed media, and community design. You can and your family can participate in classes or just stop by and check out the art on exhibition.

1413 Holman, Houston TX, 77004

Arab-American Cultural and Community Center

After more than 100 years of immigration, assimilation, and growth in the United States and in Houston, Arab-Americans have a place where their culture, art, and language can be preserved and carried on for generations yet to come.

Rising to prominence in many areas of business and daily life–from commerce and trade to education, medicine, and professional services–these first-, second-, and third-generation Arab-Americans, as well as a continuing flow of new immigrants, have helped establish Houston as a major American city for Arabs to live and do business. Now in addition to the contribution and service to the community in many forms of commerce, medicine, arts, and literature, Arab-Americans have established a facility that will benefit not only our people but the population of the whole city.

The Arab-American Cultural & Community Center offers a wide range of programs, activities, and functions, including:

Culture: Lectures on Arabic literature, arts, and science, and exhibits and symposiums intended to promote the heritage and recognize past and present accomplishments of Arabs everywhere.

Language: Lessons to teach Arabic reading and writing skills at different levels, for adults and children alike.

Resource Center: An information center with emphasis on the Arab world and its history and culture; features videos and exhibit materials.

Museum: A historic and a genealogical record of Arabs and their families who have immigrated to Texas –who they were, when they came, where they settled, and what they achieved for themselves and for their communities.

Social: A common and inclusive meeting place for community groups and associations, as well as facilities for birthdays, graduations and weddings.

Charitable Work: Assist the needy and under-privileged, and to participate and collaborate with other such organizations in the greater Houston area.

Self-Development: Assist in promoting good citizenship and in developing productive members in society.

Community Outreach: Special activities, facilities and programs for senior citizens, families and children; job placement assistance and networking; medical, legal and professional services periodically available to Arab-Americans and to the greater public at large.

10555 Stancliff Rd, Houston TX, 77099

Hindu Worship Society Temple

The Hindu Worship Society Temple is the oldest Hindu Temple in Houston.

This temple strives to meet the needs of all the sects of Hindu religion. The aim in establishing the temple was to provide a place for the Hindu community in Houston to pray, to congregate, and to get together as a community to discuss common problems and issues.

This Hindu temple in Houston also aims to foster understanding between the Hindus of greater Houston and their fellow Americans of other faiths. Mandir is open for Darshan on the following days:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 8-10 AM and 5-8 PM
  • Tuesday – Special Chanting of Hanuman Chaleesa
  • Thursday – by appointment only
  • Sunday: 11:30 to 1:30 – Regular Puja, Religious discourses and Prasad

2223 Wirtcrest lane, Houston TX, 77055

Sri Meenakshi Temple Society

Sri. Ranjit Banerjee, Professor of Architecture at University of Houston, drew the master plan for the five acre property. Sri S. M. Ganapathy Sthapathi made two trips to Houston and drew the main temple plans. Sri Muthiah Sthapathi developed further details and helped to construct the main temple. The Maha Kumbhabhishekam (inaguration) was performed in June 1982.

The deities at the main temple Meenakshi, Sundareswara and Venkateswara, were installed according to the agamas with yantras. Nandi, Siva’s vehicle, is directly opposite to Siva. Garuda, Vishnu’s vehicle, is directly opposite to Venkateswara. Lakshmi, the companion of Vishnu, is the goddess of wealth. She is represented as Padmavati. After 12 years, in June 1994, Ashtabhandhana was performed for the main deities. The east Rajagopuram, three gopurams, and four prakara temples were constructed in July 1995. The Maha Kumbhabhishekam for the Rajagopuram and for prakara temples were performed on July 16, 1995.

Listen to MTS Radio every Sunday from 10:30 AM to 11:00 AM on KILE AM 1560 Houston, TX.

17130 McLean Road, Pearland TX, 77584-4630

Asia Minor

Experience the flavor of thousands of years of history, inspiration, and art in a unique and friendly atmosphere in the heart of Houston’s Rice Village.

Asia Minor carries a variety of art products, from the 100 percent silk, hand-woven carpets of Hereke and Kayseri to the finest reproduction of Ottoman ceramic tiles from Iznik (Nicea); from the hand-painted glass of Istanbul and hand-painted porcelain of Kutahya to the embroidered silk spreads of Bursa; and much more.

Business Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-6pm

2402-B Rice Blvd., Houston TX, 77005

Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas”

Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas” is a nonprofit organization, 501 (c) (3), which is actively exposing the Russian-speaking and American communities to a wide spectrum of styles in performing and visual arts emerging from artists of Eastern Europe.

Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas” promotes talented Russian artists of different schools and styles. They offer a variety of programs ranging from art exhibitions and theatrical performances to film screenings and music festivals.

2337 Bissonnet, Houston TX, 77005

Gente de Teatro

Gente de Teatro is a non-profit organization that performs theater for the Hispanic community in Houston. Founded in 1994, its members “perform” in many capacities: set designers, marketers, promoters, directors, and yes, actors. Flexibility, adaptability, hard work, enthusiasm, and dedication are the common ingredients in all their productions. Gente de Teatro has put on more than fourteen performances since its creation. These performances take place in Hamman Hall at Rice University. Gente de Teatro enjoys support from many local organizations and businesses, including: the Department of Hispanic Studies at Rice University, the Center for the Study of Languages at Rice University, Casa Argentina de Houston, Continental Airlines, Best Buy and Fiesta. For more information about Gente de Teatro, visit www.gentedeteatro.org

Rice University, Rice Boulevard, Entrances 20 or 21, Houston TX, 77251

Jade Buddha Temple

Built in 1989, Jade Buddha Temple covers two-and-a-half acres in southwest Houston and consists of the Grand Hall, Kwan-Yin Hall, the Youth Activity Center, a library, a dining hall, several living quarters, and a lotus pond with a statue of Kwan-Yin as its centerpiece. In addition to serving the religious and spiritual needs of its members, the Temple functions as a Buddhist study and research center for many different educational institutions, including Rice University, University of Houston, the University of Texas, and St. John’s School.

The goal is to adopt and practice Buddha’s teaching of loving kindness, compassion, joyfulness, and serenity. Jade Buddha Temple offers courses in meditation and yoga. In addition, they serve a delicious vegetarian lunch on Sundays and host numerous special events.

6969 Westbranch Drive, Houston TX, 77072

Hong Kong City Mall

Hong Kong City Mall is one of the largest Asian indoor malls in the U.S. The more than 20 restaurants and cafes, along with a multitude of shops, resemble a small city. The beautiful Asian architecture, colorful gardens, fountains filled with lily pads, and an enormous parking lot make it a centerpiece for Houston’s Asian community.

The mall attracts more than 50,000 tourists each year. Anchoring the mall is Hong Kong Food Market; other tenants include a variety of oriental shops and a large Asian food court. Connected to the west wing of the mall is Ocean Palace, Houston’s largest dim sum restaurant to date.

11021 Bellaire Blvd., Houston TX, 77072

Phoenicia Specialty Foods

Phoenicia Specialty Foods specializes in imported foods from around the world, including France, Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Germany, Lebanon, Chile, Argentina, Portugal, Syria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Russia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Armenia, Brazil, and Sweden.

12141 Westheimer Road, Houston TX, 77077

Surroundings

One day Robert Hawkins was in the Peace Corps boosting the Dominican Republic’s tourist trade. Five years later, he was bringing Latin treasures to Houston to open his own store. Hawkins started with fabrics and earthenware from Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador and Peru, but after 25 years in business, he’s added handcrafted jewelry, Turkish rugs and Moroccan ironwork. All the quality merchandise has its own history and culture, much like the owner and the store itself.

Decorators enjoy the home accessories like kilim rugs from the Black Sea and Yugoslavia; a slew of lamps, some Tiffany-style, with shades made of seashells; and hand-woven cotton fabric from Guatemala. Handmade and painted pine furniture by Heights-based craftsman David Marsh sells big here, from modest shelving to big-ticket armoires.

1708 Sunset Blvd, Houston TX, 77005

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Houston is the first traditional Hindu Mandir of stone and marble to be constructed in the United States. Created entirely according to ancient Hindu architectural manuscripts known as the Shilpa-Shastras and meeting all the modern regulations of today, it was constructed in a mere 16 months starting from the day its first stone was laid. Limestone from Turkey and marble from Italy was shipped to India where it was hand-carved. More than 33,000 carved pieces were shipped from India to Houston to build such a beautiful Mandir. The Mandir opened to devotees, well-wishers, and visitors after the Pran Pratishtha ceremony performed by His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj on July 25, 2004.

1150 Brand Lane, Stafford TX, 77477

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – Houston

Experience living Hinduism and the peace and tranquility that the sacred Mandir and murtis. BAPS Shri Swaninarayan Mandir is the first of its kind in North America and its traditional Hindu Manduir was built according to the ancient architectual scriptures of India dating back 5000 years. The stones used were quarried in Turkey and Carrara Italy, and then shipped to India where 2000 traditional artisans hand sculpted them. In total, 34,000 stone pieces were carved and shipped to the United States. Hundreds of local volunteers and artisans from Stafford, Texas put the pieces together like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle. The Mandir was inagurated on July 25, 2004 by spirital leader, Swami Maharaj.

1150 Brand Lane, Stafford TX, 77477,

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