Best Museum (2004)
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston When the original Museum of Fine Arts in Houston opened its doors in 1924, it was the first art-museum building in Texas. Eighty years later, the MFAH is the grande dame of the local scene, holding court over a burgeoning contemporary shift in the district. It might be all that great impressionist and expressionist art, including the second-largest collection of Jackson Pollocks in the country. It might be all those pieces from Central America and Africa, which gave visitors exposure to multiculti objets d'art before it was cool. Include the variety of lectures and film series the MFAH hosts weekly, and you've got Houston's high-culture epicenter pegged. And with 54 new pieces added this winter -- many of them important 20th-century paintings from the bequest of benefactor Caroline Wiess Law -- the MFAH seems to be just entering its prime.