In October, 2017, Texas Monthly magazine published an article by John Lomax about the Eclectic Menagerie Park (EMP) in Houston. Lomax came up with a perfect and funny description of it. He called it a slam-the-brakes what-the-hell-is-that roadside attraction. Any repeat city, like Houston, has an inexhaustible number of things to see and do. That’s why Ruth and I keep going back. There’s always something new or unknown for us to experience.
The Eclectic Menagerie Park will eventually have to change. Someone will have an accident trying to see it, or some natural disaster will occur and require the company sponsoring it to put it behind a fence or move it and charge admission, but for now it’s free to see. Even Lomax agrees that getting to this collection of sculptures “is a little tricky” because they’re adjacent to busy Houston Highway 288 on an access road.
Eclectic Menagerie Park is an assemblage of about 2 dozen giant sculptures that are truly eclectic. They are on the property of the Texas Pipe Company not far from downtown. Several of them were created by artist Ron Lee, who has or had a workshop on the property where he made them from unused pipe and other equipment. We visited them on their grassy hillside on a fairly windy day just before rush hour. Fortunately, we were the only people there. A crowd could not be accommodated. After we took pictures, we played the which-was-your-favorite? game back in the car. Mine was the funny mariachi band below, but I also really liked King Kong waving to me from a crane.
This eclectic collection of enormous sculptures has been around and added to for quite a while. It started with the giant hippo that Texas Pipe’s chairman Jerry Rubenstein found in El Campo and moved to his company’s property.
Those determined to see this offbeat attraction can pull over on the access road where, for now, there’s room for about 4 cars. It’s worth the effort but Google Maps really made it possible.