Opened in 1987, the Menil Collection is a wonderful museum with works that were of the personal collection of the de Menil family who immigrated to the United States from France after the Nazi occupation during World War II. The complex itself is very beautiful, of a very modern architectual design, with Magnolia trees all around the grounds. Paintings and sculptures here are of a wide variety and age. There are a few Byzantine frescoes and Renaissance era works, as well as paintings by Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. There are also many native tribe works from Africa and the Americas. The Rothko Chapel, located just down the street from the main building, contains a number of pieces by noted American artist Mark Rothko, and also serves as a non-denominational religious center. The best thing about it though is that is completely free of charge! A great opportunity to see a varied collection of magnificient pieces of art, and at a great price!
I have lived in Houston for a total of seven years and never knew about this gallery until I read "1000 Places To See Before You Die." Now, I'm not a person that art speaks to. I appreciate the talent but some of it I just don't think I "get." However, the ambiance at this gallery is truly peaceful. I love how there are pieces by Picasso, Matisse, and Giacometti. For the art-impaired it really makes the trip worthwhile.
Don't forget to go across the street to the gift shop and pick up a few post cards of the more well-known pieces. Makes a great addition to any photo album or scrapbook.
Beware the map on their website is not entirely accurate. We took a wrong turn and were in a really bad neighborhood. I would map it (mapquest/yahoo) before you go just to make sure. Update: I attempted to find it again and still got lost. So allow some time to figure it out!
From "1000 Places To See Before You Die":
The Menil Collection can be found in a leafy residential neighborhood southwest of downtown Houston. Widely esteemed as one of the greatest and most eclectic private museums in the United States, it is a magnificent assemblage of some 15,000 objects (a revolving number are on display) amassed by the late Paris-born Dominique de Menil and her husband John. Sometimes described as American Medicis, the de Menils (whose fortunes derived from the oil-services firm Schlumberger, Ltd., founded by Dominique's father and uncle) were legendary as Houston's patron of the arts.
Opened in 1987, viewing art here is a very intimate experience, just what Dominique de Menil intended. It is often compared to the other small gems of America's museum scene. At its heart is the justly famous Surrealism collection, with works by Man Ray, Duchamp, and Ernst, and one of the world's best collections of Magritte. The Menil is also rich in 20th-century European artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti, and Rodin. Across the street, an annex comprises nine galleries of the work of the American artist Cy Twombly.
Great museum, not too big, not too small. Paintings of contemporary artists and surrealists, "primitive" art from all over the world. Very pleasant architecture, great lighting inside.
Other buildings that belong to the Menil collection and are within walking distance: the Rothko chapel (spooky), the Byzantine Fresco chapel (elegant), the Twonbly gallery (is this guy an artist???), and Richmond Hall (interesting).
Everything is free!
I remember going to the Rothko Chapel as a teenager. My then girlfriend told me a story of an old man that was run over by a car and killed not too far from the museum. She told me this story before we got there. She swore the last time she was there she saw the old man's face in the three panels in the picture below.
After hearing her story I was obviously skeptical...but when I stared into the dark, sweeping brush strokes of the Rothko painting, I began to see the old man myself! Maybe this was only an exercize in the powers of suggestion, but all I can say is I saw the man in the painting walking with a cane.
I don't know if there ever was a man killed nearby but it made an impression on me. The chapel is a great place to zone out!
The Menil Collection : The Menil Collection is a unique museum environment located in the Montrose-area Museum District housing the collection of John and Dominique de Menil. The museum building is the centerpiece of a neighborhood featuring satellite gallery spaces and related cultural instituitons set in a parklike setting.
The Menil Collection
1515 Sul Ross
Houston, Texas 77006
Wednesday – Sunday, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas is an incredible collection of a variety of art from tribal to modern, Egyptian to Alaskan. The Museum is free but allows no photography or electronic devices. Inspiring collections from the Menil Collection, which is operated by the Menil Foundation, Inc., and was opened to the public in June 1987 as the primary repository of John and Dominique de Menil’s private collection. One of the most significant of the twentieth century, the collection consists of nearly 15,000 works dating from the Paleolithic era to the present day. Here you can tantalize your aesthetic thirst of Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. Antiquarian? Better yet with art from South America, Egypt, North America, and the Greeks. It's a definite must-see when in Houston.
A thoughtful and well-designed Modern Art Museum located in the middle of Houston's "art district," Montrose. It's only a short stroll away from the wonderful Rothko Chapel, making this one of the most important places in all Houston.
Menil byzentine chapel fresco Museum
Strage looking from the outside, Inside it houses 13th century frescos on long term loan from Cyprus.
A nice collection of art I remember it having a large pop art collection, great temporary exhibits as well. The only dissapointing thing is the gift shop.
Its also FREE! With free parking