Houston’s Theater District Flooded by Harvey
Some of the city’s performing arts companies suffered major damage, but the museums have mostly stayed dry.
Houston’s many world-renowned arts organizations haven’t been immune to the wrath of Harvey. The worst hit were in downtown Houston, where rising water from Buffalo Bayou has turned the Theater District into a lake. Many arts leaders and staffers haven’t even been able to access the buildings yet to assess the full damage, but here’s what we know so far about how the organizations are faring. We will update the status of these throughout the week as needed. If you have any information or photos, please let us know at [email protected]
The Alley Theatre in downtown Houston suffered major flooding. As of Monday, the basement level—including the Neuhaus Theatre, the lobby, and the dressing rooms—was filled with water, exceeding the high-water mark left by Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. All electricity, email servers, and phones are offline. The Hubbard Theatre and the second-floor lobby did not sustain any damage. The Alley has canceled all remaining performances of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. Patrons may exchange tickets for a future main-stage production, request a refund, or donate the value of the tickets to the theater.
Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet
At the Wortham Theater Center, home to the Houston Opera and the Houston Ballet, and waters rose up to the stage in the Brown Theater and flooded the basement. (The Cullen Theater stage suffered minor water damage.) Houston Grand Opera staff moved valuable instruments and many costumes, including those for the upcoming productions of La Traviata and Julius Caesar, to higher floors in advance of the storm. All Houston Ballet classes are canceled indefinitely.
Although the Jones Hall auditorium showed no discernible water damage, the rehearsal hall in the basement suffered major flooding. (Standing water remained as of Monday night.) The most valuable instruments, typically stored in the basement level, were moved to higher floors before the storm.
The Theater District garages are completely filled with water.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Underground water pumps and floodgates have prevented the basements from taking in water, and neither the Beck nor Cullinan Buildings have flooded, though staffers have noticed “isolated leaks.” The gardens and some of the outbuildings at Bayou Bend flooded, but the main house is secure. Rienzi, the house museum owned by the MFAH, took on some water in the basement. Teams are on all sites 24 hours a day.
None of the Menil Collection buildings have flooded. Security and maintenance crews are staying on site around the clock, regularly checking the basements. Most of the Menil’s art is stored on the second floor of the main building. The archives and some of the art is stored in the basement.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
The buildings, collections, and exhibits are undamaged. A group of HMNS team members are looking after the butterflies in the Cockrell Butterfly Center and the reptiles and amphibians that are part of the museum’s Wildlife on Wheels school program.
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
Main Street Theater
MATCH (Midtown Arts & Theater Center)