Celebrate the Holidays

November 1, 2005 by  
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The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has a unique American decorative arts “wing,” in that it is actually a house. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens houses the art collection donated by Ima Hogg. You won’t want to miss the beautiful gardens on this 14-acre estate. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is a must-see for all Houstonians.

Bayou Bend was originally Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg’s estate. Hogg is best known for her American decorative arts collection, but was also very involved in Bayou Bend’s architecture and gardens. Prominent architect John F. Staub designed the home, which was built between 1927 and 1928, for Hogg and her brothers. She intended the gardens to be used as outdoor rooms for entertaining, rather than just gardens to be viewed from the house.

She donated Bayou Bend and her art collection to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 1957 with the intention of it becoming a museum. Ima Hogg continued to add to the collection until her death in 1975. She hoped that “Bayou Bend may serve as a bridge to bring us closer to the heart of an American heritage which unites us.” The American decorative arts are displayed in 28 period room settings at Bayou Bend.

Ultimate entertainment
From Nov. 17-Jan. 1, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens will hold their annual Yuletide celebration in which the home and gardens are lavishly decorated for the holidays. This year’s celebration, appropriately dubbed That’s Entertaining!, will feature eight historical scenes of early American celebrations from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, ranging from formal dinners to intimate family gatherings.

There are many touring options at Bayou Bend. The holiday favorite is the Candlelight Open House nights, Nov. 25, Dec. 2 and 9, which allow visitors to experience Bayou Bend by soft candlelight. Amid period music, guests listen to the docents explain the holiday settings and customs of the times seen throughout the first floor of the house. Another option is the Audio Tour, in which visitors may go on self-guided tours of the entire house with the audio and written descriptions of the rooms on the first floor.

On Yuletide Family Day, guests can enjoy the tour of the Yuletide rooms of the first floor and the holiday performances outside. Visitors are also invited to create one-of-a-kind holiday decorations. (Family Day is free!)

Complete tours of the downstairs and upstairs rooms are also available. They are led by docents and include both the Yuletide rooms and the decorative arts that are on view throughout the year. Reservations are required for this tour.

When to go
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is beautiful year-round! The holiday season offers a unique look at Bayou Bend, as well as American History. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 1 Wilcott St., (713) 639-7750, www.mfah.org/bayoubend H

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