The oldest known paintings ever done by humans are in the Lascaux Caves of Dordogne, France. The caves are home to some 2,000 detailed natural-pigment works of art, believed to be more than 17,000 years old, depicting animals and geometric shapes. Concern about the deterioration of the paintings, which represent the birth of humanity as we know it, has closed the caves to visitors, but Houstonians can see the next best thing at "Scenes from the Stone Age." The exhibition re-creates a portion of the Lascaux cave system in minute detail. Using laser scans of the original cave walls, exhibit organizers created life-size and lifelike replicas of the paintings. "Cave paintings and the smaller statuary that is found in the same time period are a good example of the creativity of the modern human mind," said Dirk Van Tuerenhout, curator of anthropology for the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which is hosting the exhibit. "We are witnessing an explosion of creativity. We see language, religion, belief in an afterworld, and technology evolving at an ever-increasing pace. Compared to earlier humans, [the people who created the art in the Lascaux Caves are] definitely different, more creative and innovative. These wall paintings express these aspects." Also on display are Élisabeth Daynès's uncanny lifelike statues of Cro-Magnon-era humans. The figures will be surprisingly familiar, since the Cro-Magnons had already developed clothing and ornamentation by this point in the archeological record.
5555 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, TX 77030
Region: Kirby-West U
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Through March 24. 5555 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit hmns.org. $20 to $25.
Oct. 22-March 24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 2013