As Hurricane Harvey careened through Texas, museums scrambled to protect priceless treasures. On Monday morning, Art&Seek’ connected with folks from across the state and we learned that some some fared better than others.
The Rockport Center for the Arts, which is home to a sculptural garden and an exhibition space, was severely damaged over the weekend.
— Jim Booth (@gspjim) August 28, 2017
The Center’s Executive Director Luis Purón said on Facebook that he had yet to reach the museum, but the images he’s seen show that the Center’s porch has blown away and that the roof has been exposed.
The Art Museum of South Texas, on the campus of Texas A&M Corpus Christi, was more fortunate. Karol Stewart is the coordinator of community services there.
“What I can tell you right now is that the art museum is still intact,” Stewart says.
Museum staff was able to move artwork into the museum’s vault. That includes pieces from a touring exhibition of American portraits curated by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
“All the artwork is safe and was well protected. And the building is intact,” says Stewart. “And we’ll know more Wednesday once we’re able to assess the damages.”
The museum did take some water damage to the lower level, but that the concrete structure seems to have held up.
UPDATE on 8/28: The MFAH and our collections are safe, but the Museum remains closed to the public for now. At Bayou Bend & Rienzi, gardens, outbuildings & basements were flooded, but that water has receded; the houses & collections remain secure. Our thoughts are with our fellow Houstonians. • Check our website for the latest information: www.mfah.org (link in bio)
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston also sustained some water damage at one of its satellite locations. But spokeswoman Mary Haus says they were prepared.
“Well, we’ve been very fortunate,” says Haus. And largely due to the advanced planning of our hurricane preparedness team. We’ve had no damage to our collections, nothing of the art has been affected.”
Folks at the museum’s main campus and its several satellite locations had been working since last Wednesday to ensure that buildings and collections stayed safe and dry.
“There’s a team that’s placed onsite at the museum on a 24-hour basis. They fill and deploy sandbags, make sure the floodgates are secure and able to be activated, make sure that there are emergency pumps stationed and ready to be used,” Haus says.
That approach is similar at The Menil Collection. They’ve got five gallery spaces in Central Houston. The Collection’s assistant director of communications, Tommy Napier, says they closed early on Friday and that sandbags were placed in front of entrances and sidewalks to prevent water from seeping into the buildings. He says the collection is safe and undamaged.