The Menil Drawing Institute is the first freestanding facility dedicated entirely to the acquisition, study, exhibition, conservation, and storage of modern and contemporary drawings. The 30,000-square-foot, $40-million building opened in November 2018, joining four other art buildings on the Menil Collection’s 30-acre campus in the heart of Houston.
Designed by Johnston Marklee in conjunction with landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the building is the first art building to be added to the campus in 20 years. Constructed on a footprint of 17,000 square feet and rising to a height of 16 feet, the building is midway in size between the domestic architecture of the bungalows that ring the Menil campus and the institutional architecture of the main museum building.
The modern new building was designed to shield light-sensitive works on paper from natural light that may damage it, while allowing modulated sunshine in common areas of the building. A beautiful, square, open-air courtyard serves as the building’s entrance. Inside, visitors will find two additional courtyards of identical size, one interior and one exterior. A “Living Room,” which functions as both a circulation spine and gathering place, links the east and west courtyards. In addition, visitors will find 3,000 square feet of galleries that will host important exhibitions to further the study of drawings.
The Menil Drawing Institute will be open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission, like that to all Menil buildings, is free.