The Grace Museum consists of a history museum, a children's museum and a fine arts museum; all at one location. The museum is also house in the old Grace Hotel which was built in 1909, was named for the daughter of the owner and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Portions of the building have been restored to 1929 appearance. Hours are 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday; the museum stays open till 8 PM on Thursdays. Admission is $8 for adults; $4 for seniors and non-active duty military; $3 for kids 4 to 12; and free for kids under 4 and active military.
The Grace Museum was my next stop after The National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature. It was a block away and I made time while the rest of my family was furniture/antique shopping. I was in Abilene so I figured there wouldn't be much to see at The Grace. Wow, was I wrong.
When I walked into the huge lobby (which used to be The Hotel Grace) I was greeted by a lovely volunteer. She was very friendly and showed me a few brochures while I signed the guestbook. She asked where I was from and we talked about how her family lived in Houston as well. She asked if I was a student (which I graciously told the truth-even though I have my old college ID) and asked if they had teacher discounts...which they don't. Either way the $6 admission was a bargain for what you get. And since The Grace is really three museums in one, it makes it a cheap donation.
The first floor was full of wonderful art. It wasn't just paintings hung on a wall, though. My favorite was the sound board. When you pushed different pieces on the wall it would make different sounds. Then they had many interesting art pieces (please look at the photos) that were different but fun. I actually got more energy as I was walking around. They have different types of pieces such as videos, sculptures, and then art on walls. So, you never really get bored. After playing with the sound wall for quite a bit I went upstairs.
The second floor was an exhibit from the local Abilene schools. They had grade levels Kindergarten through 12th showcasing all sorts of media. It was....amazing. I loved their pieces more than I loved the adult artists. I even took some pictures to use in my own classroom!
Also, on the second floor was the entrance to the Children's Museum portion. I totally waited until the kids had gone around the corner so I could play with the exhibits in the entrance. You know...the ones where the balls floating in the air and you take it out and put it back in its place. :) After you walk around the corner it's one big area with some supervisors from the Grace Museum so that ended my fun... I figured I'd let the kids enjoy their museum. (Plus some of them were screaming :/ )
Then I went one more story up to the Abilene History portion. It was set up very nice with different rooms showcasing antiques and taking you through history of how living rooms have changed over the decades. It was funny to see the furniture and the evolution of how the tv came to be the center focus of our to-date living area. Here, they also had many old pictures of Abilene showing how the city came to be and all the influential people who helped create the town. Added to this was a recreated boot shop. Abilene claims to be the start of the cowboy leather boots. It shows how they are made and how they came to be.
Overall, it was a great place to go. There's something for everyone. And for $6 you're helping a great cause and experiencing the pride of Abilene. This is a MUST for those who have children.
Tuesdays - Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Thursdays 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Thursday Evenings, 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. are free to the Public.
Closed Sunday, Monday & Major Holidays
$4 Senior Citizens, Military & Students with ID cards
$3 Children (4-12)
Free to Members and Children 3 and under
Free every Thursday Evening, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.