Museums moved outdoor sculptures indoors and indoor sculptures to upper levels, and the Houston Zoo turned itself into a virtual Noah’s Ark, with animals of all sorts banded together, as Houston prepared for Hurricane Rita.
As Rita roared toward the Texas and Louisiana coasts Friday with 135 mph winds, creating monumental traffic jams along evacuation routes, cultural institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston shut down.
At the Houston Zoo, picnic benches, garbage cans and other potential flying objects were fastened and secured. Geese, ducks and chickens roomed together in one of the zoo’s men’s rooms, a concrete structure with no windows; turkeys were weathering the hurricane in a women’s restroom.
At the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, the opening for “Thornton Dial in the 21st Century,” scheduled for Sunday, was postponed until next week. Alberto Giacometti’s bronze sculpture, “Large Standing Woman I,” was brought inside from the garden and another outdoor piece, Rodin’s “The Walking Man,” was placed on its side so it would not topple and be damaged.
Other exhibits were not in danger. Museum director Peter C. Marzio said that he’s “been through this so many times before that the facility is in pretty good shape.”
The director of the city’s Contemporary Arts Museum, Marti Mayo, said some works on the museum’s lower level were moved upstairs to protect them against flooding.
Museums will keep some security and maintenance staff on the job over the weekend.