For an in-depth look at all of the museum opportunities the Rice Art History program offers, see the HART in Museums page.
The Department of Art History encourages interdisciplinary coursework and research through collaborative links between the department and its affiliated faculty who serve as curators in Houston or who teach visual and material culture in other departments at Rice. Our program also benefits from the rich visual culture of Houston. We have special relationships with the MFAH, Menil and Asia Society by way of fellowships, research projects and courses.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston contains an encyclopedic collection of global art from antiquity to the present that includes Bayou Bend, with its collection of American decorative art and painting; the Blaffer Collection of Old Master paintings and prints; the Latin American collections and the affiliated International Center for the Art of the Americas; and an outstanding collection of modern and contemporary works.
Directly across the street from the MFAH is the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, a non-collecting museum that first opened in 1948. Reflecting the full diversity of contemporary art practice, recent one-person shows have included exhibitions by Kiki Smith, Andrea Zittel, Shirin Neshat, and William Kentridge, among many others, and group exhibitions that include, “Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970,” “Fade In: New Film and Video,” and “The Old, Weird America.” CAMH also hosts a wide range of cultural events and artist talks.
The Menil Collection, which opened to the public in 1987, is located in a quiet residential neighborhood about a mile and a half from Rice. Designed by Renzo Piano, the museum houses and exhibits the diverse private art collection of John and Dominique de Menil, in addition to hosting traveling exhibitions. The collection of approximately 15,000 objects features strengths in the European avant-garde, American post-war modernism, and African art, as well as the arts of Oceania and the Pacific Northwest. The renowned collection has important examples of modern painting and sculpture, as well as significant holdings in Antiquity, Byzantine and Medieval, Tribal, and Twentieth-Century Art (with a concentration in Surrealism). The Rothko Chapel, which features fourteen large paintings commissioned by the de Menils in 1964, is a short walk from the main museum building. In 1995 the Menil Collection opened the Cy Twombly Gallery in collaboration with the Dia Art Foundation. The Menil campus also features a site-specific installation of works by Dan Flavin, and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel. In 2015 the Menil Collection broke ground on a Drawing Institute and Study Center dedicated to the acquisition, research, conservation, and display of drawings.
The Texas branch of the international Asia Society is located in the Houston Museum District. Asia Society has eleven locations around the world; the society describes itself as "the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States." Asia Society Texas Center focuses its global mission by way of a local focus that engages the diversity of Houston with "innovative programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach." Their new building, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, opened in 2013.
The area around Rice is home to many more museums including the The Printing Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science, which includes a permanent loan-based exhibition in Egyptian art, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Holocaust Museum Houston and over a dozen other arts and cultural museums.
The Moody Center is a new, internationally focused arts institution on the Rice University campus, built as a free public platform for creating collaborative works of all kinds and for presenting innovative, transdisciplinary experiences to the public and the university community.