Austin is a city that celebrates the unusual and here are five of the Texan city’s most weird and wonderful cultural highlights.
Yard Dog Art Gallery
The vibrant walls of the Yard Dog Art Gallery
The eclectic Yard Dog Art Gallery quickly became an Austin institution. Eschewing the traditional modern art gallery aesthetic of long, white walls and minimalist hanging, Yard Dog is bursting with colour and the framed artworks jostle up against each other.
Exhibition openings are often accompanied by live music and the art on display ranges from traditional Texan folk art to Hieronymus Bosch-esq collages from musician Bob Schneider. Just down the road is the equally colourful and eclectic Austin Motel, a design motel that combines vintage decor with all the mod cons.
HOPE Outdoor Gallery
Photo by Ross Pirtle / Hope Outdoor Gallery
The HOPE Outdoor Gallery a.k.a. The Foundation is a unique project which was born out of an abandoned construction site in downtown Austin. Rather than let the site deteriorate, the local community collaborated with well-known street artist Shepard Fairey to create this bright, creative contribution to Austin’s cityscape.
More than ‘just’ a graffiti park, The Foundation offers an outdoor canvas for street artists, muralists, art classes and community projects to practise their art on a large scale and share a positive, educational message. A 7-minute drive from The Foundation you’ll find the street art-inspired Drifter Jack’s Hostel where the owners asked 25 local artists to paint murals throughout the building.
SunFlowers – An Electric Garden
One of the 15 gigantic sunflowers outside Mueller
Mueller is a small Austin community with world-saving aspirations. Located on the site of Austin’s first city airport, the environmentally conscious Mueller residents want to model a new way of living. The community focuses on low-energy consumption, intelligent land use and lowering the residents’ dependency on cars. All of which can be seen in the Mueller SunFlowers.
15 gigantic, 20-foot tall, futuristic flowers mark the entrance to Mueller as part of Austin’s biggest outdoor art installations, and the solar panels that cover these flowers have produced 300,000+ kilowatt hours of energy. Keep the green theme going and check into the eco-friendly Habitat Suites.
Cathedral of Junk
Photo by Alfred J.Reich / Cathedral of Junk in Austin, Texas
Austin resident Vince Hanneman began building his Cathedral of Junk in 1998 from junk that he found and that people gave him. Kitchen utensils, toys, car bumpers, ladders and bottles were all used to decorate the Cathedral and — thanks to the balmy Austin climate — it’s now covered in green tropical plants.
The Cathedral has been assessed by city engineers and found to be safe. Entry is free, although call ahead if you’re planning a visit, and even if you prefer to travel light, consider taking along your own piece of junk to add to the structure. Looking for somewhere to stay? The nearest accomodation is the highly-rated Candlewood Suites.
Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata
One of the USA's last family-run museums
The Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata is one of the USA’s last family-run museums, and, over the years, it has had multiple locations around Austin. Exhibits include natural wonders like a two-headed chicken, belly button lint, a lock of Elvis’ hair and the last cigarette Marilyn Monroe smoked.
Owners Scott and Jen Webel run the museum out of their home so whenever the Webels move the whole museum moves as well, and a new Austin neighbourhood gets to celebrate this unique collection of collections. Stay nearby at the not-quite-as-quirky but still-quite-distinctive StayLo Platform East self-catered apartments.