Most fans of great art around the globe know that the heart of the Menil Collection is housed in a stunning award-winning building which contains one of the great art collections in the USA that ranges from objects from the civilizations of Egypt, Middle East, Greece, Rome, Africa, Pacific Islands, and the natives of the Pacific Northwest to medieval, contemporary and modern art and sculpture including a renowned Surrealist collection.
Perhaps fewer art fans realize that the Menil Collection is the only major museum in Houston that not only provides free admission, but also, gives free access to the special exhibitions plus numerous free cultural events including lectures and music performances. Because we believe that providing access to culture and art is especially important for those who could not otherwise afford the experience, we decided that we needed to do our part by becoming members at the basic level.
What a great decision becoming members has been! We have especially enjoyed the enlightening lectures and tours given by one of the curators at noon on Fridays. We have also enjoyed tours of some of the other buildings and outdoor sculptures that are part of the Menil Collection campus which are also free to the public: the Cy Twombly Gallery, the Dan Flavin installation in Richmond Hall, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, the Rothko Chapel and soon, the Menil Drawing Institute.
Our family has been going to the Menil for many years. The museum is bright and welcoming, and not at all overwhelming. It is a great place to spend an hour…..or an afternoon…..visiting with the various paintings and objects. Our children, and of course, we, relate to the various objects. Our youngest wrote an essay about one of the paintings as part of one of his college applications (he was admitted to that school). The quality and depth of the collection is excellent, including an absolutely first rate Surrealist collection.
Two years ago, we decided to increase our interactions, and support the Menil by becoming members. That has been a very pleasant surprise to be warmly welcomed into a community of people who are very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about art. The noon lectures and periodic special events add additional dimensions to our experiences with the Menil. And, the reciprocal benefits are very good.
We are very appreciative that a wonderful institution like the Menil is here in Houston.
The Menil is an amazing museum, added to which entry is free to the public. Membership is a modest fee and offers many diverse events in which to learn and connect with museum members as well as art lovers. I particularly love the noon talks, which are given nearly every week and cover a range of topics. Not only are they enriching, but the tone is very informal and engaging.
The Menil Collection is a real gem in Houston. It is my number one recommendation for any visitor to Houston. It's free and very accessible, so I recommend frequent visits. They have a wonderful lecture program for members and their evening opening receptions are great fun and I have made several good friends at these events.
I have deep respect for the Menil Collection. It offers to everyone a free, immersive, and contemplative artistic experience. The collection is stunning, the staff is knowledgeable and approachable, and the exhibitions are always thought-provoking and multi-layered. As a Member I always attend the wonderful noontime talks and the special tours led by curators. It is a real treasure for Houstonians and visitors alike.
I love this museum. I'm lucky enough to live not too far away and visit the Menil regularly. I can stop in and see one favorite painting or an exhibit, sometimes I'll spend 10 minutes sometimes an hour. I use the museum, and it's green spaces as a sanctuary- a place to sit on a bench and watch the dog walkers and families and take refuge from a busy day or go inside and delight in a particular artwork. The scale is human, it's not an "art mall". It's as if I've been invited into someone's house to enjoy what they enjoy. The host has just disappeared but will be right back so "take a look around and make yourself comfortable." It's so wonderful to have an institution that is strong and quiet to balance out the noise of the everyday. I love that admission is free keeping it accessible to all (which is becoming harder to find.)
It's just in the last two years that I became a member. ( I honestly didn't think that membership could offer me anything more than what I was already getting -an incorrect assumption). The Friday noon talks are super. I love hearing the stories behind the artists, the act of acquiring work, the friendships between artists and the interactions between patrons, the public, curators, and seeing work from their perspectives.
As a teenager, I remember my dad expressing how lucky that Houston was the recipient of the private collection and not Paris, which I guess could have happened. I'm still in awe that a family could have such a vision for a private collection and create such a gift for our ever-growing city.
Having an incredible art museum that is physically accessible to all, and always without charge, makes the Menil an exceptional institution. The permanent collection has everything from ancient artifacts to the most modern with paintings and sculpture reflective of cultures worldwide. In addition, there are innovative special shows reflecting contemporary artworks. Not only is the staff incredibly knowledgeable, they are available to share their knowledge and do so regularly. Free lectures are offered as well as periodic concerts in conjunction with Da Camera. Besides their main building, which in and of itself is wonderful, there are additional art spaces that one can visit and a soon to open drawing institute. As a donor I have had the privilege of weekly lectures as well as tours “behind the scenes” and information about conservation and other interesting topics. The Menil is a place one can visit with people of all ages and for varying lengths of time knowing one can always come back!
Wow what a great place! We moved to Houston 2 years ago and initially joined The Menil for the NARM benefits. As we settle in to Houston life, The Menil has become an integral part of our new home. The staff is always welcoming, the exhbits are interesting and varied, the special programs are extensive and stimulating, and even the buildings themselves are gee-whiz fabulous. Entry to the Menil is free, but joining is a good idea - the member parties are great!
The Menil is an amazing gift to the City of Houston. It's one of the best museums in the world, free to all, and both unpretentious and welcoming.
The Menil was a primary reason why I was excited to move to Houston in 2010 and it continues to be the jewel of this city that I would most miss if I ever were to move away. I appreciate the accessibility of the museum--small enough to explore in a couple hours, always free and tucked right in the heart of the Montrose neighborhood. In addition to the unparalleled surrealist collection and provocative contemporary works, the Menil offers fascinating programming--obscure music and dance performances, rare artist talks. Some of my favorite talks have been those by Richard Serra, Brice Marden and Luc Tuymans.
When people ask me why I love Houston, the Menil is the first reason that comes to mind. The museum has been a bedrock in my and my family's life in this city since we moved here in 2010. It is a rare thing to have this quality of art nestled in the middle of a neighborhood like Montrose. The museum itself is a calming space--despite the often challenging, provocative art--that immediately elevates you above whatever you were dealing with before you walked in the doors. It is a space open to anyone, always free, not pretentious but instead committed to making the highest forms of art accessible to any person who cares to engage.
The staff, all the gallery attendants, the curators I’ve met, the bookstore and restaurant folks all make sure you enjoy your visit.
We are lucky here in Houston to have many Museums. They each have their niche. When It comes to art museums, the MFAH's goal seems to be the biggest. The Menil Collection's goal is, always has been and, no doubt, always will be to be the best.
The Menil, for me, is one of the most beautiful and inspiring pieces of the past, present, and future of Houston. The unprecedented collection and growth of the Menil collection is very impressive. The beautiful way in which the Menil engages the people of Houston with programming and events is incredible, and world class. The leadership and vision that the Menil has leading it into the future has created much excitement and anticipation.
Whether you are visiting while in Houston for a quick weekend trip, or as a local weekend ritual, the collection, grounds, and it’s many buildings have such breadth and depth, and are always inviting and inspiring. There is truly something, and so much to be discovered and enjoyed by everyone.
With its ever-rotating exhibitions there's always something new to discover at the Menil. Between the Main Collection, Cy Twombley Gallery, Rothko Chapel, Dan Flavin Installation, Byzantine Chapel, and upcoming Drawing Institute, each stop throughout the campus offers unique and compelling perspectives.
About a year ago, I became a member to attend the Friday Noontime Talks and gain greater exposure to the collection. While I my awareness, curiosity, and joy in the works curated has grown, I have been equally impressed by wonderful staff that make everything possible. The collection, personnel, and campus are all world class and together create a truly meaningful experience for all.
Things I Love About the Menil (in no particular order):
• Noontime Talks – I have been to at least five. They are like a slice of yummy pie. Tasty, filling, and they leave you wanting more.
• Movies! – how much fun to laze on the grass and watch the mind-blowing cinema of Dali or other artists.
• Opening Talks – while I can read up on whatever exhibition is open, nothing beats hearing the curator give her or his insights.
• Neighborhood Events/Menil Fest – I’ve been to a bunch. Dancers, music, books, poetry, local artists….
• Cy Twombly Gallery – swooooon! So often when I visit I am the only person in there for long stretches of time. Somewhere I read that if the Cy Twombly Gallery was within 25 miles of Manhattan, it would be packed daily.
• The oak tree on the east end of the main building lawn, the one in front of the entrance to the Cy Twombly Gallery, and that awesome oak tree on the south boarder of the Menil Park.
• The Menil Gift Shop, the Menil Bistro, the Byzantine Chapel, Da Camera performances!
The Menil Collection is truly a remarkable institution and the city of Houston is enriched by its legacy of sharing fine art with the public. From the individual at the front desk to the museum staff to the department curators to the directors and the visiting scholars, every person with whom I have interacted are very proud of the facility and its dedication to the museum’s mission. A trip through the galleries is a rich experience. The selections from The Menil’s collection are outstanding complemented by exhibitions of artists from throughout the world. I have brought many individuals to the museum, from little ones just beginning to understand the beauty of art to my contemporaries to older senior citizens. All ages leave with a send of pride and a renewed sense of wonder at the experience.
I have great respect and admiration for Houston's Menil Collection. The Menil's permanent collection and curated exhibitions are world-class, thanks to both the keen eye of its founders and to the talented and devoted staff that continue the founders' vision. The museum's indoor and outdoor spaces are open and inviting, providing an oasis of peace within the noise and chaos of city living. The Menil's bookstore remains focused on scholarship, offering an impressive selection of art books, catalogues and monographs. But what I appreciate most about the Menil is its dedication to public access and community outreach. The museum buildings and grounds are open to everyone - without charge - as it has always been, and the Menil reaches out to the community with regularity, hosting festivals, book fairs, concerts, film screenings, and activities for children. Indeed, the Menil Collection has earned my respect and admiration, and I believe it should serve as a model for other institutions to imitate.
I have been a frequent visitor and neighbor of the Menil for well over a decade. I remember first visiting the Rothko Chapel and the Cy Twombly exhibit when I was in high school. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was to have access to world-class art for free. I could just walk in!
The reason I go back to the Menil, and support the Menil with my time, patronage and energy is that it gives so much away and asks nothing in return. Thousands upon thousands of people from hundreds of countries in the world visit the museum each year and see some of the greatest art work ever made.
My wife and I started coming to public events and decided to join. We began attending Contemporaries events and were welcomed by the community, and have learned a tremendous amount and gained a new appreciation for the art and philosophy of the Menil.
The work that continues in carrying on the mission and legacy of the museum's founders is inspiring, and it is impressive that the museum continues to improve and grow. It is an organization that I plan to be involved with for a long time to come!
The permanent Menil collection is always impressive, regardless of which parts of it are currently on display. But the curatorial staff brings in such impressive shows from the outside. The whole facility is amazing and an incredible asset to the city of Houston.
The Menil provides a wide range of programming which is a key part of Houston's cultural tapestry. Their contributions include curator led tours of world class exhibitions; a beloved annual children's Halloween event; a permanent home to works by Cy Twombly and Dan Flavin; a fantastic public green space; and more--all free to Houstonians and our city's visitors. It is a true treasure.
The Menil Collection in Houston is one of my friends and mine's favorite places to go, when we want to see incredible art or share with guests who are visiting from out of town. To this day, I am still amazed this pillar in the Houston museum world gives visitors admission free of charge. It allows art goers to expand their knowledge and gain access to some of the best art in the world, teaching us about our human history and culture through the visual world. We are incredibly fortunate to have a non-profit organization in this city committed to the advancement of art for all.