Friday, December 2, 2011

Houston- Museum Scene- Big & Bold & out of this world!!

The Menil Collection_ A Museum and A Neighborhood

The story of the Menil Collection begins in France with the 1931 marriage of John de Menil (1904–1973), a young banker from a distinguished military family, and Dominique Schlumberger (1908–1997), daughter of Conrad Schlumberger, one of the founders of the oil services company Schlumberger, Ltd. The de Menils left France during World War II for Houston, where John eventually directed Schlumberger’s worldwide operations. The de Menils quickly became key figures in Houston’s developing cultural life, as advocates of modern art and architecture. As patrons of architecture, they built one of the first International Style houses in Texas (Philip Johnson was the architect) and the Rothko Chapel. Surviving her husband by twenty-five years, Dominique built the museum that bears the family name as well as the Cy Twombly Gallery and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum.

John and Dominique de Menil were humanists who believed that art is a central part of the human experience. It is clear from their collection that they were deeply moved by the many ways individuals over different cultures and eras have revealed in art their understanding of what it means to be human.

This belief in the power of art explains the value the Menil Collection places on the primacy of the artwork, the individual artist’s intention, and the viewer’s unmediated experience in the gallery. That experience includes the contemplative, intimate quality of space and light, and the restrained aesthetic of display. Viewers will also note the absence of explanatory wall texts, docent tours, and acoustic guides: the Menils believe that a viewer’s encounter with a work of art should be immediate and direct, not conditioned by others’ thoughts and opinions about the work.

We saw Walter De Maria's Bel Air Trilogy, 3 awesome cars wondering how he did what he did and is it ART?? My 11 year old grandson and I had great discussions along with my son and husband. The extensive collection is awesome. Then we visited the Dan Flavin Installation of colored lights and the Cy Twombly Gallery which created quite a stir and discussion!! Is scribble art? "I could do that" Yes, but did you?? and off to my personal favorite the Rothko Chapel where 14 large black painting create a subdued and somber place of meditation and retreat. My 11 year old started giggling so that he had to leave before he could see that the seemingly black paintings were really not solid black at all.

The question is What is ART? How do you define it??

Museum of Fine Art

Next stop was the Museum of Fine Art which houses 63,000 works of art from all over the world, from ancient to contemporary times. The current exhibit that I liked best was Selected Prints by Robert Rauschenberg. The prints were stunning!!

Health Museum

A unique museum was the Health Museum Houston's most interactive science learning center and a member institution of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center. Located in the heart of the city's rich and varied Museum District, The Health Museum encourages growing interest and regard for healthier lifestyles, fitness and good physical, mental and spiritual health. The Museum treasures Houston’s diverse population and welcomes individuals of all backgrounds. Very kid friendly and lots for adults to do and learn too. We all had so much fun and spent lots of time here!!All 14 of us!!

Johnson Space Center Houston

"INTELLIGENT FUN" defines the way we spent our day at Johnson Space Center Houston. A day when we've touched a Moon rock, witnessed a shuttle launch, enjoyed a guided tour of NASA and saw real space-flown vehicles! It was awesome! We all had a great day here- all 14 of us!!

Photos from internet from top: Bel Air by Walter de Maria, Installation by Dan Flavin,Cy Twombly's works,in the Rothko Chapel, Georgia O'Keefe from the Menil Collection, Ceramic from Menil Collection 600-800


  1. I have a broader definition of ART than my son, grandson and husband do. What is your definition of ART? Does the Bel Air fit into your definition?

  2. The Menil Collection is one of Houston's treasures.

  3. I enjoyed reading your descriptions of the museums. Such fun memories.

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