Houston Museum of Fine Arts

Houston Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1900, making it the oldest of the art museums in Texas. With more than 40,000 objects that span 6,000 years of history, it is one of the largest and most prestigious in the United States. This fine art museum in Houston has masterpieces of international significance including works by Fra Angelico, Gainsborough, Georgia O’Keefe, Picasso, van Gogh, Matisse, Rembrandt, and many more. Permanent Museum of Fine Arts exhibits include renaissance and baroque painting and sculpture; nineteenth-century art and American early twentieth century art; a photography collection containing more than 10,000 works; and an impressive collection of prints and drawings.

The Museum of Fine Arts exhibits traveling collections from Europe, Africa, and Asia as well as North and South America. An average of twenty of these are featured each year. The Glassell School of Art is the Houston Museum of Fine Arts teaching wing, presenting student and faculty work as well as local and regional contemporary artists. The Glassell School also has a film department, and showcases films in its Brown Auditorium.

There are several buildings and facilities with the museum complex. The original art museum in Houston building dates to 1924—the Caroline Weiss Law Building, a lovely neoclassical structure. One of the most recent additions (2000) is the Audrey Jones Beck Building, designed by renowned Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, who also designed the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles and renovated the magnificent Prado Museum in Madrid. The Lillie and Hugh Roy Sculpture Garden was designed by the acclaimed Japanese-American landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, who also designed the Japanese Gardens at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and one of the bridges in the Hiroshima Peace Park. He additionally has pieces of sculpture in numerous other places around the world, from New York City and Honolulu to Israel.

This art museum in Houston has a wide variety of objects to suit all interests. There are art masterpieces from every corner of the world, from antiquities to modern art, and everything in between. There are textiles and fabrics, porcelain, ceramics, and furniture. You can enjoy the Museum of Fine Arts exhibits and landscaped grounds daily except Mondays (although it opens on select holiday Mondays). General admission on Thursdays is free.

Located about five miles north of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and near two major golf courses is the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, one of the museum’s facilities. There are fourteen acres of lovely formal gardens and natural woodlands located along a bend in Buffalo Bayou. The gardens evolved between 1934 and 1942 when this was the private estate of avid gardener Ima Hogg. She is credited with introducing camellias to the region and with popularizing azaleas. One of the most anticipated events in the city is the River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail, and this site is prominent on the itinerary. Miss Hogg donated the estate to the city in 1957, and it is open to the public for tours. Her mansion (built in the 1920s) is open to the public as a museum, and is a refined blend of eighteenth-century Georgian architecture and Spanish Creole architecture from New Orleans. She called it “Latin Colonial.”

Image: Greater Houston CVB

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