Established in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's collection numbers nearly 70,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present.
General admission is free all day on Thursdays.
Visitors should check in advance to see which collections are on view. View the full collection on mfah.org/art.
Arts of Africa, Oceania & the Americas
The art of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands, and North, Central, and South America—including the Glassell Collections of African, Indonesian, and Pre-Columbian Gold.
American Painting & Sculpture
The Museum’s collection of American art presents a lively overview of the story of art in the United States from the 18th century to 1940. The evolving American galleries showcase celebrated works from many periods, with highlights such as Frederic Church’s Cotopaxi and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow.
Art of the ancient world provides an introduction to the styles and subjects found in the art of the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East. The collection includes more than 450 artworks and masterpieces, such as a Hellenistic Greek bronze head, an Egyptian coffin, and a Roman statue of Dionysus.
Arts of Asia
The collection spans nearly five millennia and encompasses the cultures of China, the Himalayas, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
Decorative Arts, Craft & Design
The collection of decorative arts, craft, and design focuses on works of extraordinary craftsmanship and originality made from the 17th century to the 21st. The department collects all the major design movements—19th-century Revivalist, Aesthetic, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, the Bauhaus, Scandinavian Modern, studio craft, Postmodernism—and continues with objects made just yesterday. The collection is particularly known for late-19th-century American works by the Herter Brothers and Louis Comfort Tiffany as well as objects designed by architects.
The collection of European art comprises important paintings and sculpture from the 13th to early 20th century. The expansive galleries present ivories and sculpture from the late Middle Ages; panel paintings and bronzes from the Renaissance; and paintings and sculpture from the 17th to 19th centuries.
Art of the Islamic Worlds
The Museum’s collection includes examples of sacred and secular art.Among the most significant acquisitions have been a 12th-century bronze incense burner from Iran in the form of a stylized feline figure; a superb, elaborately illuminated 14th-century Qur’an from Morocco; and a remarkable, early-16th-century tondino made in Iznik, Turkey, then the center of production for one of the most distinctive types of ceramics in the Islamic world.
Latin American Art
The Museum has built a core collection of modern and contemporary art with more than 550 emblematic works in all media, from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, as well as by Latino artists in the United States. These objects complement existing holdings inphotography, works on paper, decorative arts, painting, and sculpture, some of which entered the Museum as early as the 1930s. The total number of works of art by Latin Americans and Latinos at the MFAH surpasses 2,000.
Modern & Contemporary Art
The collecting department of modern and contemporary art has grown to more than 1,400 objects spanning six continents. Major figures in the evolution Modern and Contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on the progress of abstraction, are represented across the 20th century and into the 21st and include works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Piet Mondrian. The Surrealist era is introduced with works by Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Roberto Matta, Joan Miró, and Yves Tanguy. Postwar European artists in the collection range from Pierre Alechinsky, Anthony Caro, Niki de Saint-Phalle, and Jean Tinguely to Rebecca Horn, Anselm Kiefer, Giuseppe Penone, and Gerhard Richter. Collecting in the new millennium has opened up new avenues of exploration, from the light-based works of James Turrell, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Bill Viola to artists who challenge accepted art-historical narratives, including Nan Goldin, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Do Ho Suh, and Fred Wilson
The Museum’s photography collection comprises more than 30,000 items spanning the full history of the medium, from invention to present day. The collection includes virtually every photographic process, from daguerreotypes, albumen prints, and salt prints in the 19th century; to platinum and gum-bichromate prints at the turn of the 20th century; and gelatin silver prints and all manner of color photography in the modern era.
Prints & Drawings
The prints and drawings department is the keeper of the Museum’s encyclopedic collection of works of art on paper from the Middle Ages through the 21st century, including prints, drawings, watercolors, pastels, paintings on paper, artist books, and printmaking matrices.
Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation
The Blaffer Foundation collection contains paintings, works on paper, and decorative arts. More than 150 European Old Master paintings range predominantly from the 16th through the early 19th century, and a small collection of 20th-century paintings includes examples by Lyonel Feininger and Edvard Munch. The print collection consists of approximately 500 woodcuts, engravings, etchings, lithographs, and aquatints, by masters from Albrecht Dürer to Théodore Géricault. The focus of the Blaffer Foundation’s collection of decorative arts is the “cabinet of curiosities,” a type of collection popular among the educated and elite in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Bayou Bend, the house museum for the MFAH collection of early American decorative arts and paintings, is the former home of Houston philanthropist and collector Ima Hogg. There are more than 2,500 objects are on display in 28 room settings and galleries. The collection comprises objects made or used in the United States between 1620 and 1876, including furniture, paintings, sculpture, prints, ceramics, glass, metals, and textiles.
Rienzi is the MFAH house museum for European decorative arts. Originally the home of arts patrons Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, Rienzi comprises a remarkable art collection, house, and gardens. For more than 40 years, the Mastersons collected European decorative arts, paintings, furnishings, and porcelain made from the 17th to mid-19th centuries.