The ravages of the Katy Prairie have taken their toll on the models and unburied treasure at Forbidden Gardens, reports Brittanie Shey:
In 1996, when the museum first opened, it must have been an amazingly detailed sight. But [Forbidden Gardens founder Ira] Poon and his builders didn’t account for the Houston heat and humidity, which ruined a lot of the hand-painted details. Each terra cotta soldier used to hold a wooden weapon in his hand, but reckless children would climb into the display and take the swords to play with. When the soldiers started to break or peel, it was impossible to order more because the molds had been destroyed. [Weekend manager Alicia] Mendez said she and coworkers spend a few hours each summer having at the displays with Gorilla Glue to fix what they can.
How’s life in the model city?
The Forbidden City is under a large metal pavilion, and features the most intricate models, many of which include tiny people in the formation of a ceremonial procession. The pavilion was ostensibly meant to protect the exhibit from the weather, but it gave rise to a new problem, pigeons. Even a large decoy owl can’t keep the pigeons from nesting in the rafters and crapping all over one of China’s most important cultural icons.
Even the location, the rice field which reminded Poon of his hometown, gives rise to problems. In rainy weather the entire museum floods, bringing with it wild animals from the neighboring fields and reservoirs, including water moccasins. The floods mean Forbidden Gardens is occasionally closed.
Photos of Forbidden City model with Williamsburg Parish neighborhood in the distance and soldiers at Forbidden Gardens: Flickr user dreamsrey