7 places to see African American art in Houston

Houston Museum of African American Culture

Houston is rich with African American arts and culture.

An estimated 2.3 million people currently reside in Houston, 22.5% of which identify as African American, a population that has played a big role in shaping the city’s history.

In 1837, when Houston was divided into four wards, the southeast region became what we know as Third Ward, where most freed slaves moved after the Civil War ended and where black-owned business and African American culture flourished.

Third Ward is also home to Emancipation Park, the first municipal park that could be used by black Houstonians. The parkland was purchased in 1872 by a group of seven people, including John Henry “Jack” Yates, who raised one thousand dollars to put down on ten acres of open land to celebrate Juneteenth.

Promoting and celebrating the black American experience is meaningful for a city so rich in its culture. Here’s a list of galleries and museums to visit during African American History Month, focusing on black artists and African art.

  • The Houston Museum of African American Culture: With a stated mission to teach the Houston community about the African American experience, this museum seeks to engage and inspire while educating with unique stories and interactive art exhibitions.
    Location: 4807 Caroline St.
    Admission: Free
    Hours of operation: Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 
  • The University Museum at Texas Southern University: The idea of opening a museum came during TSU’s first administration in 1949, but it wasn’t until 51 years later that it became a reality. This museum showcases a collection of African art, as well as the work of university art students.
    Location: Fairchild Building, 3100 Cleburne Ave., First Floor
    Admission: Free
    Hours of operation: Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m with free admission to the public.

  • The Gite Gallery: This sub-Saharan African gallery provides a distinct experience that differs from the average gallery. Showcasing colorful and bold African art, this space features unique artifacts, paintings, clothing, textiles, furniture and handmade wooden sculptures.
    Location: 2024 E. Alabama St.
    Admission: Free
    Hours of operation: Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Community Artists’ Collective: Executive Director Michelle Barnes founded the collective to help teach African American artists how to sustain themselves through art-related services. It also lets the artists exhibit their works within the collective.
    Location: 4101 San Jacinto St., Suite 116
    Admission: Free
    Hours of operation: Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.
  • Bisong Art Gallery: Carla Bisong founded this gallery to connect artists and buyers, and “inspire, uplift and enrich a person’s life,” according to Bisong’s website. Founded in 2013 in a 1,300-square-foot loft, Bisong wanted to use her gallery to showcase community art and create a local platform for artists.
    Location: 1305 Sterrett St.
    Admission: Appointment might be needed, but there’s free admission to guests who want to tour the gallery. This venue also hosts private events, which you can find in the website’s calendar.
    Hours of operation: Wednesday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Houston Ebony Opera Guild: A nonprofit that focuses on professional development, exposure and training opportunities for African American choral and opera singers in Houston, Houston Ebony Opera Guild offers a variety of performance events that promote African American culture. The Guild is celebrating this year’s Black History Month with its annual African American Music Gala, celebrating black women as composers, musicians and instrumentalists.
    For more information about future events, locations and ticket prices, please look at their calendar.

    Project Row Houses turned rundown shotgun-style row houses in Houston’s Third Ward into art exhibit spaces.

    Project Row Houses: This community-engagement organization serves as a facility for art programs and neighborhood development inside Third Ward. Project Row Houses started in 1993, when seven local artists — James Bettison, Bert Long, Jesse Lott, Rick Lowe, Floyd Newsum, Bert Samples, and George Smith — noticed potential in the intersection of Holman and Live Oak streets, and saw an opportunity for social development within the community. The project consists of five blocks and houses 39 structures where you can find studios for artists, tutoring, a public art program and exhibits of student work.
    Location: 2521 Holman St.
    Admission: Free
    Hours of operation: Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.