World-class museums exist right here within the borders of the Lone Star State. Whatever your interest, from Egyptian Art to Western photography, Texas has the old money to do it up right. This holiday season make a just-for-fun visit to a museum part of your travel itinerary.
Here is a list of some of my personal favorite exhibits at museums around the state:
San Antonio is too often overlooked as a town that appreciates good art. One visit to the McNay Art Museum will convince the visitor of the international scope of its shows. "From Fauvism to Impressionism: Albert Marquet at the Pompidou" and "A View From the Top: Henri Riviere and the Eiffel Tower" will be in Texas until Jan. 5 before returning to France. The McNay is at 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., 210/824-5368, www.mcnayart.org.
In the old Lone Star Beer brewery, the San Antonio Museum of Art has one of the largest art collections from the Americas, including a collection established by the Rockefeller family. "Maestros de Plata: William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance" shows silversmithing from Taxco, Mexico, in the 1920s through Jan. 5. The Museum of Art is at 200 W. Jones, 210/979-8100, www.samuseum.org.
It is hard not to have fun and learn something at the Witte Museum. "Corridos sin Fronteras -- A New World Ballad Tradition" examines the development of the Hispanic story-song with support from the Smithsonian Institution through March 9. And you can see local folk art in "Neighborhoods: Yard Art" through Jan. 5. The Witte is at 3801 Broadway, 210/357-1900, www.wittemuseum.org.
Houston has a great mix of museums. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston mixes the old masters with the new. Even though this is the museum that brought us the art of Star Wars, it is now showing Monet and Degas in "French Impressionism: Masterpieces From Copenhagen's Ordrupgaard Collection" through Jan. 5, "Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland" until Feb. 17, and "Afghanistan: A Timeless History" through Feb. 9. The museum and the Cullen Sculpture Garden are at 1001 Bissonnet, 713/639-7300, www.mfah.org.
For something a little less highbrow, stop by the Houston Museum of Natural Science at the entrance to Hermann Park. Check out the Cochrell Butterfly Center, the IMAX theatre, or the Burke Baker Planetarium. The current exhibits include "Titanic: the Artifact Exhibit" through Jan. 5, and "Searching for Eternity: Life and Death in Ancient Egypt" through Dec. 31. The HMNS is at 1 Hermann Circle, 713/639-IMAX or www.hmns.org.
Fort Worth has a district that rivals Houston's concentration of museums. The Amon Carter Museum has a new building to display the photographs of "Eliot Porter: the Color of Wildness" through March 23, and 65 photos taken between 1901 and 1930 in "The Master Prints of Edward S. Curtis: Portraits of Native America" through Jan. 5. The Carter Museum is at 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817/738-1933, www.cartermuseum.org.
The "oldest art museum in Texas" opened its new building on Dec. 14 with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth's inaugural showing from the permanent collection through March 9. The Modern is at 3200 Darnell, 866/824-5566, www.mamfw.org.
Dallas has many wonderful museums, but Fair Park houses some of the most interesting. The Women's Museum concentrates on a subject that has been overlooked in many aspects of modern museums. Rolling Stone magazine photographer Annie Leibovitz became as famous as some of her subjects, and the "Annie Leibovitz: Women" exhibit ends its select city tour in Dallas. The Women's Museum is at 3800 Parry, 214/915-0860, www.thewomensmuseum.org.
While you're in the Fair Park area, check out the African American Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the other exhibit halls. For information, call 214/426-3400 or go to www.dallascvb.com.
There are hundreds of museums in Texas, both large and small. Before visiting during the holidays it is best to check beforehand to confirm the hours of operation. For a listing of members registered with the Texas Association of Museums go to www.io.com/~tam/museum.html .
603rd in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of Day Trips 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.