For the next year or so, the Maritime Museum will still be in Southwest Houston near the Medical Center, West University Place, and the Astrodome. There is a stretch of fast food restaurants including a Whataburger, a Taco Bell, and a McDonald's while heading on Holcombe Blvd towards the Medical Center. The Maritime Museum is hidden on the block behind the food chains on Dorrington. It looks like a residential house, but there are enough display rooms that you might want a bit more than an hour to see the museum. We don't have a special interest in maritime history, but were curious about the attraction. As expected, they had a large number of detailed model ships, but they also had an ancient amphora from a Roman ship, a deck chair from the Queen Mary, a large collection of cups and saucers given as gifts to the locks' master at the Panama Canal by ships that appreciated his help, and many other artifacts.
The most fascinating aspect was the section on the history of the Texas Navy (when Texas was an independent nation). Not having grown up in Texas, learning about how Texas' attempts at sea power seriously affected a war in the Yucatan and the stability of the Mexican government was eye-opening. The history of the individual ships and the colorful characters in charge was also fun.
There's also information on modern shipping (even oil platforms) in the area and plenty about historic vessels from the Phoenicians to the Santa Maria to the Swedish Vasa and German u-boats.
The one drawback of the museum was the sewer gas odor which did not dissipate throughout our visit. Probably their restroom needed work and that's something that will be fixed soon.
For kids interested in model ships and maritime history, this would be fun, and there's ample information (much of it aimed at kids and teens) about careers at the port. But it's not a museum with buttons to push, test your knowledge games, or videos of sea battle re-enactments, etc. Perhaps when it moves (in 2014, maybe?) to its new Ship Channel location it will have more modern amenities. However, as it is, it's a great hidden treasure.
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