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Art car on display.

Art Car Museum (Closed)

Field review by the editors.

Houston, Texas

Art Cars are, plainly enough, cars turned into works of art. The movement began in the mid-1980s when The Orange Show, another oddball Houston attraction, commissioned a "Fruitmobile." Now Houston is the site of the annual and popular Art Car Weekend, attracting artistically-augmented, freak cars from across the U.S. Some artists get so carried away gluing baubles and bric-a-brac all over their old Fords and Cadillacs that the suspension and tires can no longer carry the weight, and the driver can no longer see to drive. But, hey, it's art.

Arty view of an art car art detail.

The museum has been in a warehouse district here since the late 1990s. Its scrap metal and chrome exterior -- a building that rips off car design -- is meant to thumb its nose at skyscrapers that rip off car design. The distinctive chrome dome has given the place its nickname, "The Garage Mahal."

Is it possible that Art car people take themselves a little too seriously for a medium that involves turning cars into giant shoes and bugs? According to its literature, "The museum celebrates the spirit of this post-modern age of car-culture, in which individuals have remolded the factory-model sameness of their automobiles to the specifications of their own idiosyncratic images and visions." Yeah, yeah -- show us the bunny car!

For all of its pretense, this is a small museum with space to exhibit only a few cars at a time. It is made even smaller because it exhibits other kinds of art installations and photographs. This was one museum that perhaps needed to be two.

Easter Bunny car.

The museum announced plans to close in April 2024.

Art Car Museum

Northwest side of downtown, in a warehouse district. The Museum is just south of the I-10 exit at Heights Blvd. On the northbound side, just before the railroad tracks and Washington Ave.
Closed April 2024.

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