Museum of the Gulf Coast – Port Arthur, Texas - Atlas Obscura
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Port Arthur, Texas

Museum of the Gulf Coast

Hidden within a Gulf Coast port city is a wonderfully eclectic museum whose beginnings were housed in a bank window. 

Nestled in the heart of Port Arthur, a petrochemical hub in southeast Texas that’s home to the largest oil refinery in the United States, is a wonderfully eclectic museum whose beginnings were housed in a bank window.

Established by the Port Arthur Historical Society in 1964, the museum’s first incarnation was a window display in the Merchant’s National Bank of Port Arthur. Over the years, the number of items available for display grew, allowing the museum to move to a library room, and finally in 1994 to the location it occupies today on Proctor Street.

Relying solely on donated and some loaned items, currently around 35,000 in all, the museum is a treasure trove of local history. It touches upon everything from prominent musicians, actors, and sports legends from the southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana region to the cannibalistic practices of the area’s early inhabitants. It offers hands-on educational resources for the young and young at heart, as well as displays of seashells, carved ivory, and local fauna.

Exhibits that explore geology, the area’s petrochemical background, and art created by regional artists are all on display. There’s also a newly renovated Maritime History gallery, which showcases a large interactive touch screen interface that allows visitors to access an amazing variety of information.

Short term exhibits (which are changed every couple of months) include the recent “Betting, Booze, and Brothels,” which addressed crime, vice, and corruption in southeast Texas; a summer-scheduled “Cast of Blues” exhibition of touchable art created by a sightless sculptor; and “Great Outdoors,” which is slated for autumn of 2018.

Know Before You Go

Hours of operation are 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Saturday. Admission rates available on their website. Plenty of parking in the back.