Founded in 1900, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's collection numbers more than 56,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present.
Admission is free all day on Thursdays.
Visitors should check in advance to see which collections are on view.
The masks, figures, hats, and knives in the museum´s collection span some 2,500 years, from Nigeria´s early Nok culture, the first in all of sub-Saharan Africa to produce sculpture, to the mid-1900s.
The Glassell Collection of African Gold
Comprising more than 800 pieces, the Glassell Collection of African Gold contains exquisite works primarily from the royal courts of the Akan peoples of Ghana and Côte d´Ivoire. Assembled over many years, the Glassell Collection is considered the finest of its kind anywhere in the world and is the only substantial collection of African gold in an American museum.
American Sculpture and Painting
A particular strength of American art at the MFAH is 19th-century landscape painting, with fine examples by Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and others reflecting the allure of the American wilderness.
Masterworks by Frederic Remington
The works in the MFAH collection highlight Remington´s achievements as the creator of an enduring archetype: the American cowboy.
The ancient Egyptian works include a spectacular polychrome coffin of Pedi-Osiris and a rare blue faience sculpture of the god Thoth as a baboon.
The works of art range from a Chinese vessel made about 2400 B.C. to contemporary Japanese ceramics made in the 1990s. In October 2010 the museum opened the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Arts of China Gallery to showcase its growing collection of Chinese works. Objects in the gallery, which was designed to reflect a distinct Chinese aesthetic, range from those created in the ancient Zhou and Shang dynasties to modern installations featuring video. The museum’s Arts of Japan Gallery opened in February 2012, marking the completion of the MFAH’s Arts of Asia galleries in the Caroline Wiess Law Building. The Arts of Japan Gallery space reflects a singularly Japanese aesthetic of beauty and quiet elegance. Custom-designed Toshiba LED lighting illuminates artworks displayed in vitrine cases designed by Glasbau Hahn (of Germany). The gallery showcases the museum’s permanent Japanese art collection and display loans and temporary exhibits from other collections.
The Glassell Collection of Indonesian Gold
One of the largest gatherings of Indonesian gold displayed in an American museum, the collection contains rare and outstanding objects from the most important island cultures of Indonesia, where gold jewelry and ritual objects are crucial to the structure and meaning of life.
Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art
This collection, which consists of the finest examples of geometric abstraction in paintings, constructions, drawings, posters, and graphic materials by Brazil’s foremost artists of the post-World War II era, has long been regarded as a brilliant window into the seminal decades of Brazil’s modernization.
The museum´s collection of modern and contemporary decorative arts focuses on the major decorative arts movements with examples of exceptional design, craftsmanship, and originality.
European Painting and Sculpture
Early Christian art at the MFAH includes an important ivory figure of God the Father and a Late Gothic Virgin and Child by the workshop of Niclaus Weckman the Elder.
The Blaffer Foundation Collection
Five galleries in the Beck Building are devoted to presenting this outstanding collection of European art. The highlights include works by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Longhi, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, and Jean-Baptiste Oudry.
This area of the collection features key works by Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Édouard Vuillard. Fine examples of early Modern painting include distinct canvases by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger.
The Beck Collection
The John A. and Audrey Jones Beck Collection focuses on the revolutionary Paris art movements of the late 19th and 20th centuries—from Impressionism and Pointillism to Fauvism and Cubism.
Latin American Art
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is strategically positioned to be an international leader in Latin American art. Since 1927, the museum has presented 34 exhibitions of Latin American art, 11 in the past 20 years. The museum´s collection includes more than 760 modern and contemporary Latin American works and more than 2,500 Pre-Columbian objects. Building on this momentum and commitment, in 2001 the MFAH became the home of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA). The center, the only one of its kind in the world, serves as both a curatorial department and a resource center within the museum.
Modern and Contemporary Art
Early Modern art, including Cubist works by Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger, as well as works by Henri Matisse, Constantin Brancusi, and Piet Mondrian, are on view in the Beck Building.
The Art of Texas
Today the museum´s collection of Texas art consists of more than 2,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and photographs.
Native American Art
The Southwest component presents an unbroken visual history of the Pueblo peoples of northern Arizona and New Mexico from prehispanic times to the mid-20th century.
The collection´s primary strength is in Melanesian works, particularly from the Sepik River region of New Guinea, with a secondary strength in Australian bark paintings.
The collection illustrates the evolution of early-20th-century photographic styles, beginning with photographs that imitate romantic painting styles, such as Edward Steichen´s early images. The MFAH has especially important works made in the 1920s and 1930s by American, French, English, German, Czech, and Soviet artists.
The greatest strength of the museum´s Pre-Columbian collection lies in works of the Maya and the cultures of West Mexico.
The Glassell Collection of Pre-Columbian Gold
This rare collection of Pre-Columbian gold includes gold objects that were created as personal ornaments to adorn the face and body, as well as ritual objects, like drinking cups for ceremonies and masks for burials.
Prints and Drawings
Of particular interest are 100 early German woodcuts and engravings, including 35 by Albrecht Dürer, and groups of prints by Rembrandt and by Jacques Bellange.
Textiles and Costume
Holdings reflect the tastes of Houston´s keenly fashionable women and include designers such as Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, and Oscar de la Renta. In addition, the museum´s selection of English and haute-couture French fashions contains important examples from Liberty, Vivienne Westwood, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, and Madame Grès.
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