Art Car Museum announces its closure


Leaders of the Art Car Museum announced their intention to close after nearly 30 years in its Houston Heights location, according to a statement on its website. The announcement comes not long after both the museum’s founders, Ann O’Connor Williams Harithas and her husband James Harithas, passed away in 2021 and 2023.

The Art Car Museum is a contemporary art museum that was founded in 1998 to showcase the growing art car movement, which, according to the Art Car manifesto published by James Harithas in 1997, turns cars from a “factory-made commodity into a personal statement or expression,” and represents the changes in “popular consciousness.”

The Art Car Museum mixes the traditions of fine, folk and public art together to cultivate its aesthetic, and it exhibits not just art cars and other vehicles, but also artwork of other mediums from artists around the world.

The museum’s founder, Ann Harithas, comes from a legacy Texas ranching and oil family, and has founded two other museums with her husband James, The Station Museum in Houston (which has been temporarily closed since 2022) and the Five Points Museum of Contemporary Art in Victoria, Texas.

The Art Car and Five Points Museums have been kept alive by a trust that Ann Harithas’ children opened after her death in 2021, in order to fund the two years of exhibitions she had planned, according to a story in Texas Monthly on the family. But the couple did not create their own foundation before their deaths to keep the three museums going, nor did they leave instructions for their heirs on what to do with the properties. The futures of each museum are uncertain, although there is reportedly an emphasis on keeping the Victoria museum in operation above the other two.

There have been alleged talks with local and regional art organizations on how to continue the Art Car Museum’s legacy, according to the museum’s website. When available, those in charge will share the details publicly, the statement reads.

I’ve only been to the Art Car Museum once, I took the girls there when they were little. It’s small, more for adult enthusiasts than for kids. The actual space it’s in is nothing special – near the train tracks, next to a gas station, no street parking anywhere nearby – but its contents are unique and very much a part of Houston. I would like to think that there’s a place for its treasures somewhere in town, perhaps in more than one spot but still available to the public. Hopefully we’ll hear more soon. CultureMap has more.

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One Response to Art Car Museum announces its closure

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    It’s unfortunate that the founder of the Art Car Museum chose not to make a plan for the museum to continue after he was gone. I’m a big fan of art and cars, but combining the two, not so much, but the Art Car Museum was unique.

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