Harry Keep did a lot for Houston: he provided electronic communications at the Texas City Disaster, designed the sound systems at the now-demolished Houston Coliseum and other public projects, and operated the Gulf Coast Electronics store which also sold records above it. Jane Wiley Keep, Harry's widow, tends to his memory with the museum. It is a one-woman enterprise, and it shows.
The Gulf Coast Electronics Museum, 1110 Winbern St., is off the Main St. train line. Since it doesn't have a sign, you wouldn't find it if you didn't know what to look for. But don't go without getting in touch with Jane. The museum's hours are sporadic, depending on Keep's availability. Her artistic impulses steer the Gulf Coast Electronics Museum in many directions. What is missing is a single focus, well explored. Instead, the building has been used for art shows, salons de refuse, a cafe, and only in the last room, the display of electronics. In radio terms, the signal-to-noise ratio is skewed too far to the noise side of the spectrum.
True fans of vintage radio and electronics might find some hidden treasures, but the casual visitor will find a basic lack of curation and information. With clear and concise documentation, the museum could be polished into a little gem. Harry's military service, professional expertise, and service to the community make for interesting tale, it just needs a good storyteller to do it justice.
The last room in the building, most resembling a museum, is dedicated to electronics and the man who sold them in Houston, Harry Keep.
This WW2 era survival radio, called a Gibson Girl after its hourglass shape, had a balloon or kite-launched antennae.
After Harry's death, Gulf Coast Electronics had a large collection of items in its storage building. Some have been put on display, like cameras that were sold in the store. Others did not survive the lengthy time spent in an insecure garage with bored kids in the neighborhood. Vandalism took its toll on much of the stored inventory.
Many of the displays are arranged more for aesthetic appearance than educational content.
The cafe area, now unused, displays old records, vintage electronic magazines, miscellaneous radio and TV items, and Wiley's own artistic creations.
One of the first and last things seen on a visit to the museum is the biological/technology-infused art by Wiley.