Closing museum to sell pieces of its exhibits

February 7, 2011 4:26:04 PM PST
There's a huge response from people wanting to buy a piece of the Forbidden Gardens. In a week, the tourist attraction in Katy will close for good to make way for the Grand Parkway. The workers have been flooded with requests from people who want to buy a piece of history.

The gardens, located off Frantz Road in Katy, are a replica of the Forbidden City and include statues, gardens and courtyards.

The owner of the museum, wanting the exhibit to be as authentic as possible, had all the pieces built in China and imported to Houston.

Open for more than 14 years the Forbidden Gardens Outdoor Museum in Katy is closing in seven days, and many of its patrons hope to leave with an artifact.

"I would love a warrior. It would look great in my Zen garden," Jan Stokes said.

"My wife wants to buy some of the soldiers, so we may own one or two of them before it's over with," Bill Patton said.

With the Grand Parkway expansion set to eat up a considerable chunk of acreage the museum sits on, the owner was forced to close.

"It's such a shame that it's all going to be destroyed with the Grand Parkway coming through here," Stokes said. "It's a shame they couldn't veer off a tiny little bit to preserve this."

The outdoor museum features a one-third scale exhibit of the tomb of Qin Shi Haung-Di, with 6,000 terra cotta soldiers. A one-twentieth scale of the Forbidden City was also created for tourist to stroll through.

"It'd be nice if it could all stay together and go somewhere and still belong to the public for everyone to come see," HCC professor Emily Sloan said.

And that's the owner's hope -- the main exhibits will be displayed at another local venue, but no deals have been made.

In the meantime, employees are preparing to sell off extra pieces to the public. Items will range from $1 to about a $100 for a terra cotta warrior.

"If not, then everything is just going to get bulldozed over," said Kristina Cortez with Forbidden Gardens. "So we'd rather see things go to good homes, be for good use."

So a museum experience on a frigid morning also has some doing a little window shopping.

"I like the big paintings in the first little gallery there, the blue and white. I have a lot of white Chinese porcelain that would look pretty," Stokes said.

The museum closes on February 13. Artifact sales to the public are between February 19 and 21.