Introduction Founded in 1900 by the Houston Public School Art League, the Museum Of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) is the oldest art museum in Texas. It was then, and remains today, dedicated to serving all people by pursuing excellence in art through collection, exhibition, conservation, and education. Since its inception, the museum has sought to encourage public interest in the fine arts; education in the broadest sense has always been its mission.
The first museum building 3 opened to the public in 1924 3 represented the determination of Houstonians to transform their growing city into a rich cultural center. Trustees and staff dedicated the small art collection to the community and defined the function of the museum as bringing cart into the everyday life d of all Houstonians. The challenge implicit in the dedication has been the driving force of the institution for more than nine decades.
Since 1900, the museum has evolved from a turn-of-the century education initiative, in which volunteers placed art in public schools, into a major center for learning about art. Today the MFAH encompasses two buildings, the Caroline Wiess Law and Audrey Jones Beck buildings, that house its primary collections and temporary exhibitions; two decorative art centers; ... more. less.
a studio art school; a sculpture garden; a state-of the-art facility for conservation, storage and archives; and an administrative building with the children 9s art school wing. The museum has assembled the largest and most impressive art collection in the Southwest.<br><br> Spanning 6,000 years and seven continents, the MFAH 9s collection of 53,915 works of art constitutes an exceptional resource for learning about the visual arts from a global perspective. Major strengths lie in the areas of Italian Renaissance painting, French Impressionism, photography, American and European decorative arts, African and pre- Columbian gold, American art, and post-1945 European and American painting and sculpture. Other strengths include African-American art and Texas painting.<br><br> Emerging collection interests encompass the areas of modern and contemporary Latin American art, Asian art, antiquities, and works on paper. Thoughtful collection growth in these areas has enabled the institution to respond to visitors of widely disparate backgrounds, traditions, and expectations. As a result, the museum ranks nationally among the top ten art museums in attendance.<br><br> The Collection Throughout its history, the MFAH 9s permanent collection has benefited in size and scope from the significant, considered gifts of its patrons. Prior to the opening of the permanent museum building in 1924, George M. Dickson bequeathed to the collection its first important American and European oil paintings.<br><br> In the 1930 9s, Houstonian Annette Finnigan began her donation of antiquities and Texas philanthropist Ima Hogg gave her collection of avant-garde European prints and drawings. Ima Hogg 9s gift was followed by the subsequent donations of her Southwest Native American and Frederic Remington collections during the 1940 9s. The same decade witnessed the 1944 bequest of eighty-three Renaissance paintings, sculptures and works on paper from renowned New York collectors Edith and Percy Straus.<br><br> Over the next two decades, gifts from prominent Houston families and foundations concentrated on European art from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries, contemporary painting and sculpture, and African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art. Among these are the gifts of Life Trustees Sarah Campbell Blaffer, Dominique de Menil and Alice N. Hanzsen as well as that of the Samuel H.<br><br> Kress Foundation. Augmented by museum purchases, the permanent collection numbered 12,000 objects by 1970. This era also witnessed the opening of the MFAH 9s first decorative arts centers, the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens.<br><br> The former home of Life Trustee Ima Hogg, Bayou Bend was donated to the MFAH in 1957, followed, in 1962, by the donation of its collection of paintings, furniture, ceramics, glass, metals, and textiles. Bayou Bend was officially dedicated and opened to the public in 1966. Situated on fourteen acres of formal and woodland gardens five miles from the main museum campus, the historic house museum documents American decorative and fine arts from the seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries.<br><br> It is esteemed as one of the nation 9s premier museums of decorative arts. The MFAH collection nearly doubled from 1970 to 1989, fueled by continued donations of art along with the advent of both accession endowment funding and corporate giving. In 1974, John and Audrey Jones Beck placed on long-term loan fifty Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, augmenting the museum 9s already strong Impressionist collection.<br><br> This collection would never leave the MFAH, formally entering its holdings in 1998 as a gift of Life Trustee Audrey Jones Beck. The collection is permanently displayed in the building that bears her name. On the heels of the Cullen Foundation 9s funding of the MFAH 9s first accessions endowment in 1970, the Brown Foundation, Inc., launched a challenge grant in 1976 that would stay in effect for twenty years raising funds for both accessions and operational costs in landmark amounts and providing incentive for additional community support.<br><br> Also in 1976, the photography collection (now a major strength of the MFAH permanent holdings) was established with Target Stores 9 first corporate grant to the museum. The last seventeen years have been a time of tremendous growth for the MFAH collection. In 1991, patrons Carroll Sterling and Harris Masterson III gave their home, Rienzi, to the MFAH followed in 1997 by a gift of their extensive collection of European decorative arts.<br><br> In 1999 Rienzi opened to the public as the MFAH 9s second decorative arts center. Physically adjacent, Rienzi and the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens together form one of the more impressive decorative arts centers in the country. In 1997 and 2001 respectively, Alfred C.<br><br> Glassell, Jr., bestowed his renowned African and Pre-Columbian gold collections to the MFAH, ensconcing it as a principal leader in these collecting areas. In 2001, the Latin American Art department and the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) were established. The ICAA is dedicated to the development of a world-class collection of Latin American and Latino Art as well as the recovery and dissemination of specialized resources furthering art scholarship in these areas.<br><br> In 2002, the MFAH acquired the comprehensive photography collection of Manfred Heiting, elevating the MFAH 9s already substantial photographic holdings to one of the most distinguished in the world. The following year, Helen Williams Drutt English donated her internationally recognized collection of contemporary jewelry. In 2004 Life Trustee Caroline Wiess Law bequeathed fifty-five major artworks from the 20 th century masters.<br><br> In terms of gifts to the MFAH collection, the Law bequest could be compared in significance to the gifts of Life Trustees Ima Hogg and Audrey Jones Beck. Today the MFAH 9s permanent collection totals 53,915 works of art of which more than 22,000 have been added in the last decade. Exhibitions The museum 9s exhibition program began in 1904 under the auspices of the MFAH 9s predecessor organization, the Houston Public School Art League.<br><br> In the earliest years, the founders of the institution placed exhibitions of reproductions at schools and other venues throughout the city for the purpose of art education. It was not long, however, before the museum began to host traveling exhibitions as well as organize local and regional ones. Prior to the opening of its first permanent building in 1924, the museum had held substantial exhibitions; these included an exhibition of Newcomb pottery, a loan exhibition from the Art Institute of Chicago, several exhibitions of early Texas artists and the first four annual Exhibitions of Paintings by Selected American Artists organized by the American Federation of the Arts.<br><br> The last featured such renowned American artists as George Bellows, William Merritt Chase and Childe Hassam. The museum 9s first art bequest, the George M. Dickson Collection, was initially exhibited in 1919 (the year it was gifted) at the University Club in downtown Houston and again in 1924 in the newly opened permanent building.<br><br> With the opening of the first permanent museum building, known as the William Ward Watkin building, the museum 9s exhibition scheduling escalated dramatically. Despite the hardships of the Great Depression, the MFAH held 458 exhibitions between 1924 and 1939. Among these were solo exhibitions for George Bellows, José Clemente Orozco, Frederick Remington and Edward Weston.<br><br> Four additional exhibitions organized by the American Federation of Arts featured such artists as Gustave Courbet, Arthur Davis, George Fuller, George Inness, Camille Pissarro, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo as well as Childe Hassam and Willim Merritt Chase. During this era, the MFAH hosted nine traveling group exhibitions from the Museum of Modern Art, New York galleries and other sources. These included Loan Exhibition of Old Masters of the 17 th and 18 th Centuries; Modern French and American Art; Exhibition of Modern German Prints; Modern French Paintings ; An Exhibition of European Masters from the 15 th to 18 th Centuries; International Exhibition of Abstract Painting and Sculpture; Bronzes and Drawings by Six Modern Sculptors; Modern Primitives of Europe and America, Masters of Popular Painting; and Contemporary Art of Seventy-nine Countries .<br><br> Among the most renowned artists represented in these group exhibitions were Paul Cézanne, Moretto da Brescia, Alexander Calder, Antonio Canaletto, Edgar Degas, Raoul Dufy, Anthony van Dyck, El Greco, Sir Thomas Gainsborough, Frans Hals, Paul Klee, Aristide Maillol, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Claude Monet, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Pierre August Renoir, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Henri Rousseau, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Vincent Van Gogh, Goswyn van der Weyden, and Maurice de Vlaminck. Exhibitions organized by the MFAH during this era focused largely on local, Texas and regional art as well as art available from private collections. The latter often featured Asian art in the form of Japanese ivories, prints and Seto; oriental rugs; and Chinese paintings and scrolls.<br><br> The interest in local and regional art was reflected in the annual Exhibitions of Work by Houston Artists, which ran from 1925 to 1960, and the annual circuit exhibitions of the Southern States Art League, which ran from 1924 to 1945. The MFAH adjusted to the realities of World War II by hosting local and regional shows and by organizing exhibitions drawn from its permanent holdings and local private collections. The museum also continued to attract traveling exhibitions, maintaining an active and international exhibition schedule that sustained more than twenty shows per year.<br><br> In addition to the annual Houston Artist and Southern States Art League exhibitions, the MFAH began to organize the annual Texas General Exhibition in conjunction with other Texas art organizations. The Texas General Exhibition came to be known as the Annual Exhibition of Texas Painting and Sculpture ; it was held from 1940 through 1961. In addition to the annual exhibitions, several exhibitions featuring Texas art were organized, reflecting an on-going interest in the genre.<br><br> During these years, an early interest in Latin American art grew and was reflected in an increased number of exhibitions featuring works from Mexico and South America. Some of these exhibitions drew upon the MFAH 9s permanent collection and featured artists such as Uruguayan Pedro Figari as well as the Mexicans Montenegro, Orozco and Rivera. Others were organized by IBM, International American Affairs and the San Francisco and New Orleans Museums of Art; they featured contemporary artists from Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela.<br><br> Six other traveling exhibitions featuring American painters, European masters and Russian contemporary artists organized by outside art institutions such as MOMA, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and New York galleries came to the MFAH in the war years. The post-war boom brought significant changes to Houston and the MFAH that are reflected in the museum 9s exhibition history. As Houston entered its modern era, there was increased demand among collectors and museum patrons for modern masterworks.<br><br> A third of the exhibition schedule between 1946 and 1959 was dedicated to modernism. In 1947, Fifty-five Works of Modern Art Owned by Houstonians which featured works by such artists as Fernand Léger, Robert Motherwell and Georges Rouault. The following year witnessed the establishment of the Contemporary Arts Association (CAA), which held its inaugural exhibition This is Contemporary Art at the MFAH.<br><br> Among exhibitions at the MFAH that were circulated by the American Federation of the Arts were those on Moholy-Nagy (under the auspices of the CAA), Nicolas de Stael, and a group exhibition featuring Adolph Gottlieb, Jacques Lipchiz and Ben Shahn. Latin American modernists continued to hold Houstonians 9 interest and solo exhibitions were held for Federico Cantu, Pedro Figari, Armando Reverón, Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo. Comparative analysis between modernism and the primitive art of early cultures resulted in the exhibition, 2200 Years of Chinese Art from Shang to Sung , and the CAA 9s landmark exhibition, Totems Not Taboo: An Exhibition of Primitive Arts , held in the MFAH 9s newly opened Cullinan Hall.<br><br> Under the directorship of the museum 9s first full-time director, Lee Malone, the MFAH began to organize more exhibitions, many focusing on modernism. Accompanying exhibition catalogs, with forewords composed by the director, became more substantive. Among the exhibitions organized by the MFAH during this period were Chagall and DeChirico and House of Art , that included works by such artists as Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Joan Miró and Pierre Soulages as well as earlier masters, Claude Lorrain, Camille Pissaro and Rembrandt van Rijn.<br><br> In 1956, the MFAH organized its first major traveling exhibit, the Gulf-Caribbean Art exhibition. The following year, the MFAH exhibited Three Brothers - Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Marcel Duchamp in conjunction with its hosting of the American Federation of the Arts meeting. The inaugural exhibition for Cullinan Hall, The Human Image, opened in October of 1958, with installation designs by the new addition 9s architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.<br><br> The exhibit surveyed the artistic representation of the human body throughout civilization and featured such artists as Sandro Botticelli, François Boucher, Constantin Brancusi, Pieter Bruegel, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, John Singleton Copley, Lucas Cranach, Willem De Kooning, Donatello, Alberto Giacometti, Amedeo Modigliani, Odilon Redon, Auguste Rodin, David Smith and Titian. Cullinan Hall 9s expansive space of minimalist design provided an opportunity to exhibit modern works to their best advantage, a circumstance that colored much of the exhibition history during the 1960 9s. Also driving the character of the exhibition schedule was the MFAH 9s new director, James Johnson Sweeney; Sweeney, an internationally recognized scholar, was the founding director of the Soloman R.<br><br> Guggenheim Museum and past independent curator for the Museum of Modern Art. Sweeney 9s tenure lasted from 1961 to 1967 and was characterized by dramatic installations of modern art and a focus on the international art community. Under his directorship, the annual exhibitions of local and Texas art were eliminated, although the MFAH still included regional art in its exhibition schedule.<br><br> The most notable of the regional group exhibitions during this era was The Southwest: Painting and Sculpture in 1962. More than a quarter of the exhibitions in the decade were dedicated to modernism, including a number of traveling exhibitions organized by the MFAH. Among these MFAH traveling exhibitions were solo shows for Alberto Burri, Sam Francis, Hans Hartung, and Louise Nevelson.<br><br> The first exhibition curated by James Johnson Sweeney was Dérain Before 1915. Other artists featured in solo exhibitions in this era were Eduardo Chillida, Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, Georgia O 9Keeffe, Pierre Soulages and Jean Tinguely. Significant group exhibitions included From Gauguin to Gorky; The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso; The Heroic Years: Paris 1908-1914; and Three Spaniards: Picasso, Miró, Chillida.<br><br> This era witnessed the first two solo exhibitions dedicated to an African-American artist, John Biggers, in 1962 and 1968. African-American artists were featured in a group exhibition by the MFAH as early as 1930. In 1950, John Biggers captured the purchase prize for the Houston artist exhibition, which heralded the end of the segregated admission policy at the MFAH.<br><br> The 1960 9s also witnessed increased interest in photography, with more than a dozen exhibitions dedicated to the art form. Among the photo exhibitions was a solo exhibition of Walker Evans photography taken in Africa. Several exhibitions dedicated to antiquities were installed during the decade.<br><br> The cultures of origins ranged from ancient Egypt to Tunisia, Turkey, India, Israel, Iran and MesoAmerica. The most notable of those organized by the MFAH was The Olmec Tradition, which was the first exhibition dedicated exclusively to the Olmec culture. Preparations for the exhibition included the excavation of an ancient Olmec head from the jungles of Veracruz, which required the building of a road.<br><br> The MFAH produced a short documentary film, The Road to the Olmec Head, chronicling the process. Renovations completed at the time of Cullinan Hall 9s construction provided a gallery for art educational installations. With the addition of the new gallery, the number of educational exhibits increased fourfold to a total of sixty-six.<br><br> Gallery performances were often held in conjunction with these popular exhibitions. Trends originating in the 1960 9s progressed in the next decade. Modernism, art education and photography continued to predominate, although the opening of Bayou Bend and the appointment of a Decorative Arts curator by new MFAH director, Philippe de Montebello, led to several exhibitions dedicated exclusively to decorative arts.<br><br> The most significant of these was The Gothic Revival Style in America: 1830-1870. An increasing number of exhibits organized by the MFAH traveled to other venues. Among the latter was French Oil Sketches from an English Collection; Seventeenth, Eighteeenth and Nineteenth Centuries which included more than seventy works by artists such as François Boucher, Laurent de La Hyre and Baron François Gérard.<br><br> The MFAH also organized traveling exhibitions for Patrick Henry Bruce, Gustave Caillebotte, Winslow Homer and Alexander Lieberman. A retrospective for Hans Hofmann was co-sponsored with the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The opening of the second Mies van der Rohe addition, the Brown Pavilion, in 1974 furthered the installation of more modernist exhibits with its open expanse that doubled the gallery space previously available.<br><br> De Montebello, responded to the continuing interest in modernism by creating a 20 th century curatorial position. The Brown Pavilion 9s inaugural exhibition was The Great Decade of American Abstraction: Modernist Art 1960 to 1970 followed by Modern Painting: 1900 to the Present; Modern American Paintings 1910-1940: Toward a New Perspective; and Synchromism and American Color Abstraction, 1910-1925 . Modern solo exhibits organized by the MFAH featured, among others, the works of Manabu Mabé, Picasso, Ary Stillman, Stuart Davis and Miró.<br><br> Other modern artists featured in solo shows during the decade included Anthony Caro, De Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. In 1978 the blockbuster Cézanne: The Late Work organized by MOMA drew record crowds. During this period the works of local, Texas, Latin American and Hispanic artists were incorporated into the larger modernist and regional shows.<br><br> Art education remained the theme of a proliferation of exhibitions in the dedicated education gallery, but also began to emerge as a component of other museum exhibitions such as the African Art of the Dogon, that featured tribal dancers, a lecture by John Biggers and a recreation of a granary. The number of photography exhibitions during the 1970 9s doubled over the previous decade to twenty-six. The MFAH organized solo exhibits for Roy de Carava, George Krause and Man Ray.<br><br> Edward Weston and Diane Arbus were featured in other solo photographic shows. In 1978, the fourth MFAH director, William C. Agee, hired the MFAH 9s first full-time photography curator, Anne Wilkes Tucker.<br><br> The decade concluded with the installation of the exceptional Armand Hammer Collection: Four Centuries of Masterpieces. Installed in Upper Brown, it featured artists ranging from Andrea del Sarto to Andrew Wyeth. In 1982 the MFAH 9s current and longest-serving fulltime director, Peter C.<br><br> Marzio, began a tenure that would launch the MFAH into the fore of the global art stage. Marzio, former director and chief executive officer of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, considered a museum 9s temporary exhibition schedule a measure of its vitality. An increasingly ambitious and encyclopedic exhibition schedule has resulted in the installation of nearly 800 exhibitions during his twenty-four years tenure (with a record breaking 55 in 2004).<br><br> In accompaniment, the MFAH has produced one hundred and forty exhibition catalogs - as well as producing twenty guides to its permanent collections. The MFAH 9s vibrant exhibition schedule has drawn nineteen million visitors to its campus and an additional thirteen million to its outreach exhibits and Web site during his tenure. Exhibitions organized by the MFAH have traveled to five continents and such American museums as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, J.<br><br> Paul Getty Museum, National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Frick Collection. The MFAH entered into an exchange agreement with Russia 9s State Pushkin Museum that resulted in the blockbuster, Old Masters, Impressionists, and Moderns: French Masterworks from the State Pushkin Museum, Moscow. Artistic areas historically represented at the MFAH have received an expanded or innovative focus under Marzio 9s directorship.<br><br> The number of both European and American art exhibitions has more than tripled over those installed in the two decades prior to Marzio 9s arrival. European art exhibitions organized or co-sponsored by the MFAH during this period have included Della Pittura: 300 Years of Italian Painting; The Intimate Interiors of Edouard Vuillard; Landmarks in Print Collecting: Masterpieces from the British Museum; Leonardo da Vinci: The Anatomy of Man; Dégas Landscapes; The Body of Christ in Art of Europe and New Spain; The Splendor of Rome: The 18th Century; Courbet and the Modern Landsape ; and Best in Show: The Dog in Art from the Renaissance to Today. American art exhibitions organized or co-sponsored by the MFAH during this period have included The Best of Times: Intimate American Paintings from the Turn of the Century; Mark Catesby's Natural History of America, The Watercolors from the Royal Library, Windsor; John Singleton Copley in England; and The Modern West: American Landscapes, 1890-1950.<br><br> Other important exhibitions in these traditional fields of art history included Masterpieces of the American West: Selections from the Anschutz Collection; Age of the Marvelous; Classical Taste in America, 1800-1840 ; Visions of Love and Life: English Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection , England ; Masterpieces from the Pierpont Morgan Library ; John Singleton Copley in America; Matisse, Picasso, and Friends: Masterworks on Paper from the Cone Collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art; Rembrandt to Gainsborough: Masterpieces from England's Dulwich Picture Gallery; William Merritt Chase: Modern American Landscapes, 1886-1890; The Cos Cob Art Colony: Impressionists on the Connecticut Shore; Monet, Renoir, and the Impressionist Landscape; French Impressionism: Masterpieces from Copenhagen 9s Ordrupgaard Collection; Paris in the Age of Impressionism: Masterworks from the Musée d 9Orsay and The Masterpieces of French Painting from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800-1920.. Continued interest in the art of ancient and tribal cultures has been reflected in such exhibitions as Treasures from the Shanghai Museum: 6,000 Years of Chinese Art; Treasures of the Holy Land: Ancient Art from the Israel Museum; Expressions of Belief: Masterpieces of African, Oceanic, and Indonesian Art from the Museum voor Volkenkunde, Rotterdam; The Ancient Americas: Art from Sacred Landscapes; The Quest for Eternity: Chinese Ceramic Sculptures from the People's Republic of China; B enin: Royal Art of Africa from the Museum Für Völkerkunde, Vienna; Rediscovering Pompeii; Treasures of the Sultans: Masterpieces from the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey; Splendors of Ancient Egypt; Treasury of the World: The Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals; The Golden Age of Archaeology: Celebrated Discoveries from The People's Republic of China; Afghanistan: A Timeless History; and The Centaur 9s Smile: The Human Animal in Early Greek Art . The MFAH 9s historic interest in modernism from Europe, America and Latin America has remained a constant.<br><br> Important exhibitions featuring modern and contemporary art have included Hispanic Art in the United States: Thirty Contemporary Painters and Sculptors; Arman 1955-1991; Robert Rauschenberg: A Retrospective; Brice Marden: Work Books and Series; James Rosenquist: A Retrospective; Basquiat; and the blockbuster exhibition, The Heroic Century: The Museum of Modern Art Masterpieces, 200 Paintings and Sculptures. A noteworthy development in this area has been the recent focus on contemporary African art. In 2000, the MFAH exhibited its newly acquired thematic collection of contemporary African photographs and accompanying sculpture in The Clubs of Bamako.<br><br> This was followed in 2005 by the groundbreaking African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection . Another important development affecting the modern and contemporary exhibition schedule was its branching into other internal departments created to accommodate specific areas of the field. Most notably was the establishment of the Latin American art department in 2001.<br><br> Building on the ongoing interest in Latin American art during this era, as evidenced by the success of such exhibitions as Portrait of a Decade: David Alfaro Siqueiros 1930-1940; The World of Frida Kahlo; and Diego Rivera: Art and Revolution , the Latin American department has launched a series of exhibitions focusing on South American art, including Alfredo Jaar: The Eyes of Gutete Emerita ; Gego, Between Transparency and the Invisible ; Xul Solar: Visions and Revelations and Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Color. The most acclaimed of the recent Latin American art exhibitions has been Inverted Utopias: Avant- Garde Art in Latin America, named by the U.S. division of the International Association of Art Critics as the best thematic exhibition of 2004.<br><br> Similarly, the Decorative Arts department expanded its focus from traditional areas featured in such successful exhibitions as Marks of Achievement: Four Centuries of American Presentation Silver; Herter Brothers: Furniture and Interiors for a Gilded Age; and A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum to include modern design. As an outgrowth of this development, the Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design department was established in 2003; its inaugural exhibition, American Modern: 1920s and '30s Design was followed by such exhibitions as Cartier Design: Viewed by Ettore Sottsass; Murano: Glass from the Olnick Spanu Collection; and Crafting a Collection, that highlighted important pieces of functional art and sculptural craft collected by the MFAH over a period of eight decades. Exhibitions that addressed design and craft in the African-American community were The Wilson Potters: An African-American Enterprise in 19th-Century Texas and two that examined the tradition of quilting, The Quilts of Gee 9s Bend and Gee´s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt, the former of which received an International Art Critics award.<br><br> Another development that furthered the exhibition of modern and contemporary art was the opening of the Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., School of Art in 1979; its generous gallery space has provided a venue for annual exhibitions of the art created by faculty, students, and Core fellows as well as contemporary artists from near and far such as Linda Ridgway, Vernon Fisher, Tobi Kahn, Peter Sarkisian, Helen Altman, and Luca Buvoli. Also featured in the Glassell School gallery were solo shows for Annette Lawrence and Rick Lowe, African-American artists living in Houston.<br><br> With solo exhibitions in the museum galleries for Ezekiel Gibbs, John Biggers, Kermit Oliver and Bert Long, African-American artists have been well represented among exhibitions dedicated to Texas artists during this period. Significant group exhibitions of modern and contemporary Texas art have included Fresh Paint: The Houston School; The Texas Landscape, 1900-1986; The Texas Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Texas Myths and Realities; and The Texas Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Texas Modern and Post-Modern. Photography rivaled modernism in popularity, with more than a hundred twenty-five exhibitions dedicated to the art form.<br><br> Among the eighty-six photography exhibits organized by the MFAH during the current directorship are Unknown Territory: Photographs by Ray K. Metzker, 1957-83; Robert Frank: New York to Nova Scotia; American Prospects: The Photographs of Joel Sternfeld; The Art of Photography: 1839-1989; Czech Modernism: 1900-1945; Money Matters: A Critical Look at Bank Architecture; Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach; The Dark Mirror: Picasso Photography and Painting; Brassaï: The Eye of Paris; and the Louis Faurer Retrospective. A noteworthy development in this area has been the recent focus on contemporary Asian photography, the subject of six exhibitions since 1999.<br><br> Among these have been The History of Japanese Photography; A Tale of Two Cities: Yasuhiro Ishimoto; Okanoue Toshiko: Collages and The Great Wall of China: Photographs by Chen Changfen. Other important photography exhibitions have been Eugene Atget: Ancien Regime ; Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Early Work, 1929-1934; Songs of My People ; Tina Modotti; Photographs; Roy De Carava: A Retrospective ; Walker Evans ; Irving Penn, A Career in Photography; Americanos: Latino Life in the United States; and Diane Arbus Revelations . Diverse in its subject matter, the photography has also been represented in exhibitions such as Voices of the American West from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston ; Jackson Pollock, Robert Frank and The New American Vision: Drawings and Photographs from the Forties and Fifties; Western Landscapes by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran from the Stark Museum of Art and Baseball as America .<br><br> The schedule for future exhibitions at the MFAH promises to be equally rich in quality and diversity. Education The growth of the museum and of its collection has been paralleled by an increased commitment to education. Art classes were instituted in 1927 and, by 1944, the staff established a regular docent program that included student tours of the permanent collection.<br><br> Today more than 912,000 individuals participate in the innovative educational programs available on the MFAH campus and at locations throughout Houston and Harris County. Programs include lectures for area school teachers, exhibitions installed at city and county public libraries, mural projects; summer internships; and workshops that employ art as a means for inner city parents to connect with and educate their children. Long-term initiatives include Learning through Art at the MFAH , an art resource curriculum for grades one through six that received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) challenge grant and that has become a model for similar programs throughout the state.<br><br> Begun in 1990, it is now in its third printing. In 1993, museum educators initiated A Place for All People , a five-year audience development project funded by the Wallace Foundation, that built partnerships with underserved neighborhoods so successfully that its scope and funding was increased for a subsequent five year grant period. The museum received a 1995 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to endow the education department, programming, and a standing committee of outside scholars.<br><br> In 1997, the MFAH received the federal government 9s highest honor for extraordinary community service, the National Award for Museum Service, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The following year the Education department received a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to develop an interactive Web site for the Bayou Bend Collection. In 2003, the teachers resource center was refurbished with funding from the Kinder Foundation.<br><br> Teachers from across the state borrow art educational material critical to their curriculum from the Kinder Foundation Teacher Research Center. The Research Center also supports the Evenings for Educators program. In 20oo, the MFAH Education department entered into a partnership with the schools, library, and museum in the rural community of Beeville, Texas.<br><br> Besides sending artists from the Glassell School of Art down to conduct workshops, the MFAH arranged an exhibition of Old Master paintings from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer collection. Most recently, the Education department has received funding from the Wallace Foundation for Gateway to Art/De Puertas al arte , a project to engage Houston 9s rapidly increasing Hispanic community by the interpretation of Latin American and Latino art. The position of Education Director, created as a full-time position in 1982, was endowed as the W.T.<br><br> and Louise J. Moran Education Director in 2003. The department employs twenty full-time staff members.<br><br> Campus and Programs In 1916, the MFAH's founding organization (originally known as the Houston Public School Art League and incorporated as the Houston Art League in 1913) received the first funding dedicated to the purchase of a triangular lot bordered by Main, Montrose and Bissonnet streets that was to become its permanent home. The facility built at that location opened in 1924 for the exhibition and housing of its art collection and the mounting of loan exhibitions. The museum building was designed by William Ward Watkin, first chairman of Rice University's Architecture Department.<br><br> Designed to be built in phases, a complete west wing and a section of the east wing were added in 1926. Plans to complete the east wing and construct a fourth segment to enclose an area as a courtyard were never executed. Additions to the Watkin building were not constructed until the 1950s, when plans to expand and modernize were fueled by the initial gifts of thirty-three masterpieces from the Robert Lee Blaffer Memorial Collection and the promise of permanent loans from the Samuel H.<br><br> Kress Foundation. The Robert Lee Blaffer Memorial Wing was designed by Kenneth Franzheim, the city's foremost commercial architect of the era. During the construction of the Blaffer Memorial Wing, significant improvements -- most notably, air conditioning -- were made to several existing galleries.<br><br> Soon after the opening of the Blaffer Memorial Wing, the MFAH received a gift for the construction of the Joseph Stephen and Lucie Halm Cullinan Hall addition. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Germany's renowned modernist architect and last director of the Bauhaus School, was commissioned to develop a twenty-five year plan for the MFAH. The first phase of the masterplan was the construction of Cullinan Hall, completed in 1958.<br><br> Air conditioning and improved lighting were added at this time to the portion of galleries not improved during the addition of the Blaffer Memorial Wing. The second phase of Mies's plan, and the last addition to the original museum building now known as the Caroline Wiess Law Building, was completed in 1974 with the construction of the Brown Pavilion. The Brown Pavilion doubled the MFAH's exhibition space.<br><br> The most striking component of the Mies design was an expansive upper gallery stretching the entire length of the north façade. With a twenty foot ceiling and glass exterior wall, the upper gallery exemplified modernist design. The lower level featured an auditorium that today is one of the few designed by Mies that remains operational.<br><br> The Brown auditorium serves as the home of the popular MFAH film program; begun at the close of the Great Depression, the film program - now of international scope - attracts 22,000 viewers to its screenings, lectures and symposia each year. New library space was also included in the Brown addition; in 1981 it was renamed and endowed as the Hirsch Library. Today, with more than 100,000 volumes and journals in its collection, it is considered one of the premiere art reference libraries in the Southwest.<br><br> The addition of the Brown Pavilion also provided space for administrative offices and a retail shop. As part of the building project, renovations were made to the existing building that resulted in the establishment of three additional galleries and the renovation of another. With the Brown Pavilion's completion in the fiftieth anniversary year of the Watkin building's opening, expansion options for the MFAH within its original triangular site were exhausted; future expansions would necessitate the enlargement of the MFAH campus.<br><br> When the Audrey Jones Beck Building opened in 2000, it marked the centennial of the museum's founding and the culmination of fifteen years of strategic planning and expansion for the MFAH. Those years had witnessed significant additions to the MFAH 9s landscape which entailed the construction of a studio art school, a sculpture garden, an off-site facility and administrative building. The Alfred C.<br><br> Glassell, Jr. School of Art - a studio school for visual arts with spacious work areas and equipment for painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography and jewelry design - had opened in 1979. The Glassell School provided a permanent home to the MFAH 9s art instruction program, begun in 1927.<br><br> The Glassell School of Art instituted the Core Fellows Program in 1982. The program offers talented young artists one and two-year residencies between formal school training and professional life. Providing intensive studio experience and encouraging self-motivated investigation of the visual arts, it attracts promising artists from around the globe.<br><br> Most recently, the Glassell School of Art has embarked on an unprecedented collaboration with six area universities and colleges to provide undergraduate art classes and related educational programs enhanced by the visual experience and study of the MFAH collection. The Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, designed by renowned landscape artist and sculptor, Isamu Noguchi, gracefully connected the space between the Caroline Wiess Law building and the Glassell School of Art in 1986. The one acre site, itself a work of art, provides a dynamic backdrop for the more than 25 sculptures it contains.<br><br> Designed to interplay with the various qualities of light in the course of the day and of foliage through the seasons, Noguchi also planned carefully for its maturation. Twenty-five years has only enhanced the tranquil and engaging nature of Noguchi 9s design. At the close of 1991, an off-site facility provided additional art storage space, state-of the-art conservation labs and a home for the archives.<br><br> The MFAH Archives, established in 1984, is one of the oldest art museum archives in the country and today houses more than a century of institutional records and more than sixty manuscript collections. The Conservation department, formally established in 1996, now has additional state-of-the-art labs in the new Audrey Jones Beck building and maintains a staff of seven conservators and several technicians. In 1994, the MFAH Central Administration building was completed to accommodate the MFAH 9s growing development and accounting staff.<br><br> The building also provided a wing for a separate children 9s art school that now enrolls four thousand students a year. The expansion plans also called for extensive renovations of the MFAH's two house museums, Bayou Bend and Rienzi. Designed by architect Rafael Moneo, the Audrey Jones Beck Building opened to acclaim in March 2000.<br><br> It was the first major museum commission in the United States for Moneo, the 1996 recipient of architecture's highest honor, the Pritzker Prize. Among the Beck building's exterior signatures are a series of rooftop lanterns that provide natural lighting for many of the galleries. The New York Times hailed the building as a "stunning surprise: a museum filled with an explosion of overhead natural light and major artworks." The nearly 200,000 square-foot building doubled the gallery space, rendering the MFAH the nation 9s fifth largest museum in terms of exhibition space.<br><br> The expansion allowed the permanent installation of the Audrey Jones Beck Collection and the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Collection. The Beck building also provided space for a new retail shop and a restaurant. A tunnel featuring the illuminated installation of sculptor, James Turrell - entitled The Light Inside - spectacularly ties the Beck and Law buildings together.<br><br> The enthusiasm the Beck building has generated in the art community has lead to the acquisition of more than 14,000 works of art. Since its opening it has attracted more than 8 million visitors. Future plans for the MFAH campus include the construction of a visitors 9 center at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, the expansion of the Alfred C.<br><br> Glassell, Jr. School of Art 9s studios, and the addition of a new facility for the MFAH 9s conservation and storage needs as well as new space for the archives. On the horizon are plans for a third museum building for the main campus.<br><br> The building will be dedicated to modern and contemporary art.