Menil Collection: The Coolest Little Art Collection in Houston

Posted by on February 12, 2014

Houston’s Menil Collection

You know that expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” that gets tossed about so flippantly? Well, perhaps it should be applied to museums as well. I’m even entirely aware that the Menil Collection’s main exhibits are housed in the first US building designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano. Somehow, though, the exterior just doesn’t do it for me.

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Menil Collection – Main Building.

Step inside any of the Menil Collection buildings, though, and that judgment of the cover flips right inside out. Inside is artwork that spans eras and disciplines and borders and boundaries. The Mr. and Mrs. de Menil family amassed quite a collection over their lives, and culminated their appreciation for art with a donation to the larger community of Houston of their collection and a beautiful space to house it in. (Yes, from the inside, the building is astounding. Another of those situations vis a vis ‘cover’.)

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Menil Collection – Richmond Hall.

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Menil Collection – Cy Twombly Gallery.

The rest of the Menil Collection buildings bear this out as well, at the Cy Twombly Gallery and Dan Flavin Installation, both temples to art on the inside while remaining relatively unassuming on the exterior.

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Rothko Chapel.

The one notable exception? The Rothko Chapel. Though not actually part of the Menil Collection, the half-a-block proximity means they get pretty mentally mixed together when I think of the area. Something about the outside of the Rothko just speaks to the quiet serenity within.

At any rate, all of these places are well worth a day of your time in Houston.


The Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel are all located on the campus of the University of St. Thomas in Houston’s Montrose district. Check their websites for info on hours and date, as it all adds up to far too much to list here.

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