Art + Museums Attractions Bistro Menil Byzantine Fresco Chapel Dan Flavin Installation Featured Menil Collection Menil Drawing Institute Menil Park Museums Public Art Rothko Chapel Technology Visitors Guide

Visitor’s Guide: The Menil Collection in Montrose

Photograph by Kevin Keim | Courtesy of the Menil Collection

Take in necessary artistic endeavors whereas strolling the hallowed halls of the always-free Menil Collection in Montrose.

Since 1987, the Menil Collection has served as a supplier of the humanities, from historic to modern, nestled in a residential neighborhood of Houston.

Located amongst lush greenery and quietude not typically discovered in Montrose, the Menil excursions guests by means of the unparalleled assortment of founders John and Dominique de Menil.

Following a 2018 renovation, the Menil has as soon as once more opened their doorways, providing intimate viewings of astounding artworks whereas sustaining a connection between indigenous arts and modern works.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-02-don-glentzerThe Menil Collection exterior | Photograph: Don Glentzer

Small on the Outdoors, Giant on the Inside

The Menil campus serves as one of the crucial transportive areas in all of Houston. Simply blocks from two of the town’s busiest roadways, the engrossing pure setting beckons park-goers and art-enthusiasts for meditation and rest in an space that feels untouched by Houston’s hustle and bustle.

Sprawling from the primary constructing, the grounds of the Menil Collection embrace a number of understated buildings, in trademark gray and white, amid lawns dotted by sculptures, magnolia timber, bamboo shoots, and previous oaks with drooping branches that look off the bottom and again into the air once more.

Italian architect Renzo Piano has left his mark throughout this campus, most notably in the primary constructing that rests on the nook of Mandell and Sul Ross.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-03-kevin-keimThe Menil Collection’s facade | Photograph: Kevin Keim

Adhering to the instruction of Dominque de Menil, Piano created a constructing that seems “small on the outside, large on the inside”.

Right here, the wavy louvers that adorn the highest of the museum present a particular ornamental aptitude in addition to channeling pure mild all through the inside areas.

Inside, black pine flooring distinction with starkly white partitions to supply a levity for guests that could be fairly totally different from the heaviness museum-goers typically expertise at bigger establishments.

By design, this isn’t a spot for images. Whereas photographs are allowed inside the hallway, images is just not permitted inside the gallery areas in order that viewers are embedded inside a contemplative environment and higher capable of have extra intimate encounters with the paintings.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-04-don-glentzer“Saviour Mother Save Your Lover” by Eric Fischl | Photograph: Don Glentzer

A Huge Timeline of Artwork Historical past

The two wings of the Menil Collection present numerous experiences from vastly totally different geographical areas and time durations.

To the left of the primary entrance, viewers discover the traditional and medieval arts earlier than encountering a strong show of African artwork. Native North American and Pacific Islands items are additionally displayed, offering a distinction with many large-scale modern works that spherical out this aspect of the museum.

Within the reverse wing, viewers encounter an in depth assortment of Surrealist artwork and a powerful show of the Menil Collection’s cherished Trendy works.

Although these two wings might seem from very totally different worlds, the Menil Collection serves as a strategy to discover the formal and religious connections between trendy works and humanities of historic and indigenous cultures.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-05-don-glentzer“Middle Passage” by Frank Bowling | Photograph: Don Glentzer

From Historic Artwork to Africa

By way of the gallery of historic works, viewers will discover items from the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Close to and Center East, and Asia from a variety of time durations that present a visible historical past of human civilizations that attain way back to 15,000 BCE.

Turning the nook from historic works brings viewers into an exploration of paintings from the Center Ages. The distinctive space of this gallery revolves round a small aspect room coated in a deep navy colour that units it aside from the encompassing white partitions.

Right here, spiritual artwork bursts with pops of colour and gold leaf, highlighting totally different biblical scenes and saints by Greek, Balkan, and Russian artists. On a pedestal in the middle, a sixth-century reliquary rests for viewers to see over the small object that may include a holy relic.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-06-don-glentzerPaintings from the Center Ages | Photograph: Don Glentzer

Lastly, a robust show of African works, together with greater than 60 masks, figural sculptures and shrines, and vessels from areas of West and Central Africa, present a tour for guests via a nuanced examination of the usually confrontational relationship between Africa and Europe.

The works right here contact on the histories of slavery, colonialism, and racism whereas additionally offering a direct hyperlink from the highly effective works by indigenous peoples to the surrealists on show elsewhere in the museum.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-07-don-glentzerAfrican antiquities | Photograph: Don Glentzer

Native Works of the Americas & Pacific Islands

Earlier than ducking into the subsequent gallery, take a second in the hallway to discover the gathering of masks and small figures from the Pacific Northwest area of North America.

Watch out to not miss the tucked away figurine from the Punuk area of Alaska, courting to between the fifth and tenth century. This small determine of a head is hidden in a slender passage behind the shows of masks, and guests are offered one of the crucial intimate viewings of an paintings all through the museum.

The Pacific Islands gallery is a one-room space that examines masks, physique ornaments, textiles, ceremonial objects, and musical devices from the areas of Polynesia and Melanesia.

Taking center-stage in this room are three towering sculptures product of tree fern, clay, and wooden that start to prime guests for contemplating large-scale works which are unfold all through the remainder of the Menil Collection.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-08-don-glentzerPhotograph: Don Glentzer

Modern Artwork

Transitioning into items from inside the final century, the modern gallery presents artworks from post-war Europe, dwelling artists that defy classification, and a number of the most recognizable names together with their internationally-renowned items.

By means of the doorway, French artist and sculptor Yves Klein dominates the imaginative and prescient of tourists. Together with considered one of his signature, saturated blue items hanging to the left, his work Blue Rain is introduced, for the primary time, over a pit of blue pigment. This ethereal work options blue picket rods hanging over the pigment in delicate suspension.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-09-don-glentzer“Blue Rain” by Yves Klein (pictured middle) | Photograph: Don Glentzer

All through this gallery, Menil Collection is flowing at its greatest, with surprises lurking round each flip and in each nook that you could be be liable to overlook — like Christo’s 1966-67 work, Hall Retailer Entrance, which is hidden inside the white wall that separates Blue Rain from the remainder of the gallery behind.

Elsewhere in this gallery, Richard Serra’s Two Nook Minimize: Excessive Low offers an off-kilter expertise for guests standing on the finish of an enclosed corridor between two large rectangular sheets of black linen that fill the viewer’s periphery.

Lastly, Cy Twombly’s 1970 monumental work Treatise on the Veil serves as a museum spotlight, spanning the size of the gallery with Twombly’s spikes of dreary, runny greys and blacks slashed with a musical employees and the artist’s trademark scrawls.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-10-don-glentzer“Treatise on the Veil” by Cy Twombly (pictured proper) | Photograph: Don Glentzer

Short-term Exhibitions 

Inside every wing of the Menil Collection, a one-room gallery gives an opportunity for short-term exhibitions to spotlight particular works or themes inside an artist’s portfolio.

From the obsession of Mickey Mouse iconography by Claes Oldenburg to the minimalist sculptures of Leslie Hewitt or a earlier screening of Andy Warhol’s Sundown movie, the Menil’s rotating galleries offers an opportunity to periodically clean up the museum with close-up exhibitions involving the expansive assortment.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-21-don-glentzerNative Works of the Pacific Northwest | Photograph: Don Glentzer


A big assortment of paintings, the Surrealism exhibit on the Menil Collection gathers items from main artists of the motion, together with Max Ernst, Wifredo Lam, and Man Ray.

Underneath dim lighting and on darker partitions, this space of the museum shows a singular assortment not discovered many locations, made much more particular by Witnesses.

In Witnesses, discovered inside the Surrealism gallery, a aspect room brings the viewer right into a startling surroundings crammed with a staggering array of private belongings and gadgets that helped to tell the inspiration for a lot of surrealists.

With hen specimens, masks, kachina dolls, and a leather-based go well with with picket and metallic spikes, these items characterize artwork from a variety of cultures that allowed surrealists to type an artwork motion that questions the character of actuality itself.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-11-don-glentzerA number of Surrealist work from the Collection | Photograph: Don Glentzer

One other spotlight inside the Surrealism gallery is the room adjoining to Witnesses, that includes eleven artworks from one of many premier artists of the motion, René Magritte. Be happy to utilize the benches in this room so there’s sufficient time to soak up the absurd particulars in his work.

Akin to in his 1963 piece, The Telescope, which uneasily disrupts the viewer’s perception of actuality whereas wanting by way of an ajar window onto a pristine skyscape of idyllic clouds.

And in Golconda, Magritte suspends our understanding on a subject of smartly-dressed males in coats and bowler hats floating (or falling?) over the rooftops under.

All through the Surrealism gallery, every of those works requires an additional second of examination to tug out all the small print, absurdity, and unsettling notions masked inside the progressive inventive motion.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-12-don-glentzerArtworks by René Magritte | Photograph: Don Glentzer

Trendy Artwork

An exquisite option to wrap up a go to on the Menil Collection, the Trendy gallery explores most of the motion’s vital artists via large artworks and in a kind of chronological method that helps to look at the event of those influential items.

Picasso’s cubist choices fill the primary entry into the gallery earlier than fellow cubist Fernand Léger’s brilliant, colourful, and clear works lead viewers across the room.

Into the subsequent space, the unmistakable large-scale work of Alexander Calder is suspended close to the far wall. As an alternative of the usually lofty show above the heads of museum patrons discovered elsewhere, the Menil has introduced it right down to eye degree in order that viewers can look at the small particulars of the counter-balancing mobiles that outline Calder’s work.

On the other wall, simply earlier than the subsequent room, two Piet Mondrian works usher in the motion of summary expressionism.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-13-don-glentzerCellular by Alexander Calder (pictured above) | Photograph: Don Glentzer

The expansive room that follows serves as probably the most spectacular areas inside the Menil Collection.

The works that grasp by Barnett Newman are offered sufficient room between them and throughout the ground in order that viewers are capable of discover the area, attaining views, and angles that may be troublesome in cramped galleries elsewhere.

On the opposite aspect of the partition in this room lies a collection of works that recall the close by Rothko Chapel.

5 Mark Rothko work, starting from small to fairly giant, grasp round an outsized cushion that gives viewers a chance to cease and meditate on the daring, colourful works by the American painter, in distinction to the heavy paintings discovered in the Chapel.

A primary spot is resting on the sting of the cushion in entrance of No. 10 from 1957. Observing the blends of yellows, gold, and white with no distinct edges, a viewer’s calm gaze over No. 10 might lend to them turning into engulfed in the colourful Rothko washes, misplaced in contemplative thought.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-14-don-glentzerArtworks by Mark Rothko | Photograph: Don Glentzer

Dominique & John de Menil

This monumental assortment of paintings was amassed by French philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil, who emigrated to america throughout World Struggle II.

Upon arriving in Houston, the couple shortly assumed roles in the event of Houston’s artwork tradition whereas amassing over 17,000 work, sculptures, prints, drawings, pictures, and uncommon books.

From René Magritte and Max Ernst to Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, the de Menils would typically type shut relationships with most of the artists, resulting in particular exhibitions — typically presenting artworks of artists for the primary time in america.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-15-don-glentzer“Big Campbell’s Soup Can (Beef Noodle) [Nineteen Cents]” by Andy Warhol | Photograph: Don GlentzerTheir work selling civil rights through the 1960s would additionally see contributions resembling “The De Luxe Show”, an exhibition that was organized in Houston’s Fifth Ward and served as one of many first racially built-in artwork exhibits in america.

Although plans for a museum housing their in depth assortment had begun in 1972, it wasn’t till after John’s dying a yr later that Dominique would pursue this aim on her personal.

Now, over thirty years because the opening of the Menil Collection, the landmark constructing hosts a small portion of the de Menil’s substantial holdings, offering a rewarding return go to to patrons all year long’s occasional rotations of artworks.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-16-richard-barnesMenil Drawing Institute exterior | Photograph: Richard Barnes

Across the Grounds

Whether or not you’re round for a day or a weekend, the very walkable Menil Campus and Westheimer Curve supply loads of should do issues in addition to eating places and bars to brunch and completely happy hour in the guts of Montrose.

Menil Park

Adjoining to the Menil Collection’s fundamental constructing, Menil Park welcomes guests to benefit from the inexperienced, shaded lawns that includes an outside sculpture by Mark di Suvero. In style for weekend picnics, Menil Park additionally serves as one of many prime rest spots in the town for locals.

Menil Drawing Institute

Opened in late 2018 to deal with most of the Menil Collection’s in depth drawing artworks, the Menil Drawing Institute offers an intimate setting for the general public to view the Collection’s holdings and rotating exhibitions.

The hanging design of the constructing by Johnston Marklee options spacious courtyards and incorporates pure mild for an ethereal, contemplative environment.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-17-richard-barnesMenil Drawing Institute exterior | Photograph: Richard Barnes

Rothko Chapel

Often known as an area for meditation and prayer, the non-denominational Rothko Chapel was commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in 1964.

Mark Rothko, an American pioneer of the summary expressionist motion, designed towering works of blacks, greys, and deep purples which are suspended across the perimeter of the Chapel to encourage introspection.

Outdoors, the Barnett Newman sculpture Damaged Obelisk rests in a mirrored image pool, devoted to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cy Twombly Gallery

Opened in 1995, this gallery mimics the “small on the outside, large on the inside” ethos of architect Renzo Piano.

Housing 33 work and 11 sculptures by the American painter, the Cy Twombly Gallery accommodates summary and expressionist works that may be troublesome or difficult not only for most of the people, however to the subtle artwork fanatic as nicely.

The progressive lighting construction employed inside helps to disperse pure mild that lends delicate transformations to the artworks relying on climate and time of day.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-18-don-glentzer“Untitled (Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor)” by Cy Twombly | Photograph: Don Glentzer

Dan Flavin Set up at Richmond Corridor

Over 4 many years, minimalist Dan Flavin created lovely sculptural works utilizing colourful fluorescent lighting. With the assistance of Dominique de Menil, Flavin took over the previous grocery retailer on Richmond Avenue, finishing the designs for the work simply two days earlier than his demise.

The expansive Dan Flavin Set up was accomplished by the artist’s studio, and fills the inside area with rows of colourful lights, altered by the flood of pure mild from a protruding skylight above. A small assortment of his works prolong the set up right into a again room on the finish of the corridor.

Byzantine Fresco Chapel

Intervening in an public sale of stolen thirteenth-century church frescoes, the Menil Collection bought and displayed the works in the Byzantine Fresco Chapel till, in 2012, they have been returned to the unique church in Cyprus.

The Chapel now performs host to a rotation of long-term artwork installations, together with the current Fabiola Undertaking that displayed lots of of portraits of Roman Saint Fabiola.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-19-hickey-robertson“Untitled” by Dan Flavin | Photograph: Hickey-Robertson

Menil Bookstore

Throughout from the primary constructing of the Menil Collection, the Bookstore options publications on exhibitions, the gathering, and particular tasks, in addition to particular sides of artwork and artwork actions.

Friends can even discover a assortment of youngsters’s books and toys, in addition to different presents, together with jewellery and paintings by Texas-based artists.

Bistro Menil

In the event you’re hungry for close by fare, Chef Greg Martin‘s Bistro Menil serves European-inspired American dishes starting from appetizers to full entrees, craft beers, and wines.

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-20-don-glentzerA walkway between Cy Twombly Gallery and Menil Drawing Institute | Photograph: Don Glentzer

The Menil Collection

visitors-guide-menil-collection-houston-01-ft-kevin-keimThe Menil Collection’s East garden | Photograph: Kevin Keim