Day Trips: Eclectic Menagerie Park, Houston

Outdoor collection is part sculpture museum, part inanimate zoo

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The Eclectic Menagerie Park goes a long way to help keep Space City weird. In a field off the freeway in South Central Houston, out past the 610 Loop, is a collection of world-class folk art.

The inanimate zoo and sculpture garden fills the expansive 108-acre lawn of the Texas Pipe & Supply along the southbound highway. Hopefully the thousands of commuters get a daily smile as they pass the yard art of a giant fishing pole reeling in a pickup truck and Snoopy flying a fighter plane.

The outdoor museum began in 1987 when Jerry Rubenstein, chairman of the board at the oilfield supply company, purchased a concrete hippo. From there he was off to the races, acquiring large metal sculptures of an eagle, King Kong scaling a crane boom, a dinosaur, a roadrunner, and a spider big enough to give an arachnophobe nightmares. Most of the art is made from repurposed materials.

The majority of the monuments to silliness are credited to welder and artist Ron Lee and local sculptor Mark Rankin. Lee has worked for Texas Pipe & Supply nearly 50 years. When he's not fabricating industrial projects, he's exercising his creative side.

While the menagerie makes a great photo op, you'll have to do it from your vehicle. There is really nowhere to safely park and the public is not allowed on the company's property.

The Eclectic Menagerie Park is at the southwest corner of West Bellfort Avenue and the South Freeway (SH 288). The best way to view the whimsical creatures is to exit the freeway at Bellfort Avenue, drive slowly along the southbound frontage road, and take photos from the passenger seat of your car.

1,563rd in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Day Trips
Day Trips: The Vanishing Texana Museum, Jacksonville
Day Trips: The Vanishing Texana Museum, Jacksonville
Train ticket leads to museum demolition

Gerald E. McLeod, Sept. 23, 2022

Day Trips: Houston Dining
Day Trips: Houston Dining
Tacos or barbecue? Take your pick from two stellar Space City eateries.

Gerald E. McLeod, Sept. 16, 2022


Eclectic Menagerie Park, Houston, Jerry Rubenstein, Texas Pipe & Supply, Ron Lee, Mark Rankin

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle