Friday, January 13, 2012

Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor Center

Houston's beloved Bayou Bend opened the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center in September 2010 as a "modern gateway to the historic collections and gardens." And, even though I live only a few blocks away from it, I had never stopped in to check it out — until today. 

I had read once that the building was designed by Houston architect Leslie K. Elkins and had achieved a LEED-Silver for its environmental efficiencies. I expected to be impressed by this structure, and I was.

Entering the center, I found an orientation gallery, a library, two meeting rooms and a retail shop. I spent some time peeking in the various spaces and, admittedly, more than a little bit of time in the boutique, browsing for treasures. I found a wonderful selection of unique items - in all price ranges. All were reflective of the quality, craftsmanship and beauty of Bayou Bend.

I especially liked some of the shop's hand-carved wooden bowls and jars; all were created by a local artist — from Bayou Bend trees lost during Hurricane Ike. I really liked that!

Another favorite collection were some decorative pillows hand-made in China. The one with the image of an extra-large ladybug on it almost came home with me! 

The shop, as well as the rest of the visitor center, is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. 

A short walk from the center, and through a bird sanctuary and over a suspension bridge that spans Buffalo Bayou, is Bayou Bend, the magnificent home of Houston philanthropist and collector Ima Hogg. The house, situated on 14 landscaped acres, was designed by architect John Staub and constructed in 1928. Its Early American decorative arts and paintings collections are recognized as among the finest in the nation.

Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens is part of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and located at #1 Westcott Street. 

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