Houston Fine Arts – Great for a Rainy (or Hot) Day

Joseph Ferguson ’16

The City of Houston offers far more opportunities to culture oneself than the average onlooker may think. Whether it’s the amazing, top-ranked food culture, established nightlife, frequent weekend exhibitions, or the world-famous Rodeo, Houston’s painted itself both as a growing economic powerhouse and as a avid consumer of the arts. For instance, The Museum of Fine Arts, located in the Houston Museum District, is one of the largest museums in the United States. Its permanent collection spans more than 6,000 years of history with approximately 64,000 works from six continents. Each year, 1.25 million visitors benefit from the museum’s programs, workshops, resource centers, and community outreach programs. With a strong focus on the greater-Houston community as a whole, these community outreach programs have grown to reach more than 500,000 city-goers each year across all socioeconomic levels, bringing the fine arts to communities often neglected by culture-shaping endeavors.

The Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston is the oldest art museum in Texas. In 1917, the Houston Public School Art League pledged the site intending for it to become a large public art museum. The first museum building (opened to the public in 1924) represented the determination of Houstonians to transform their growing city into the rich cultural center it is today. Trustees and staff dedicated the small art collection to the community and defined the function of the museum as bringing “art into the everyday life” of all Houstonians. Today the MFAH encompasses the Caroline Wiess Law and Audrey Jones Beck Buildings, both of which house the museum’s primary collections and temporary exhibitions; two decorative arts house museums; The Glassell studio art school; a sculpture garden; a “state­-of­-the-art” facility for conservation, storage and archives; and an administrative building with the Glassell Junior school of Art.

With more than 62,000 works of art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has the largest and most diverse art collection in the southern United States. The majority of the museum’s collection focus on the areas of Italian Renaissance painting, French Impressionism, photography, American and European decorative arts, African and pre­-Columbian gold, American art, and post-­1945 European and American painting and sculpture. Other facets of the collection include African­-American art and Texas painting. Emerging collection interests of modern and contemporary Latin American art, Asian art, and Islamic art continue to strengthen the museum’s collection diversity. As a result of its encyclopedic collection, the museum ranks nationally among the top ten art museums in attendance.

Next time you have the chance, on a rainy day this spring or a blistering afternoon this summer, take a chance to take in the fine arts community around Houston. Start with the Museum of Fine Arts, and you might just be surprised at what you learn about some 6,000 years of art movements. Maybe you’ll even learn a little about yourself. Check it out on a Thursday night after school – admission is free then. Otherwise, $7.50 isn’t too steep considering most of the ticket price is pumped directly back into enriching the greater-Houston community.