Lace up this weekend at the MFAH.

Image: Shutterstock

Monet on Ice
Jan 17 & 18
Free with ticket to Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River
$23; students, seniors, and military
$18; MFAH members free
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
1001 Bissonnet St.
713-639-7300
mfah.org 

Since Mies van der Rohe's austere glass-and-steel Cullinan Hall addition to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston opened in 1958, generations of curators have struggled with how to exhibit art in the cavernous space. Even the most monumental canvases can seem puny when displayed on the towering whitewashed walls, which are less evocative of an art gallery than the ice wall from Game of Thrones. The sprawling expanse of polished stone flooring has a way of swallowing up any sculptures that dare to pollute its pristine domain. It's been said that only two curators, James Johnson Sweeney and Jermayne MacAgy, have ever been able to mount successful shows in the space.  

Finally, perhaps, the MFAH has figured out a way to fill the space, albeit an unorthodox one: an ice rink. To promote its exhibition Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River, which includes many winter scenes of the frozen-over Seine, the museum is installing a full-size ice rink, for Saturday and Sunday only, directly below the Brown Pavilion in Cullinan Hall. Entrance to the ice rink is free with a ticket to the exhibition, and includes complimentary ice skate rentals. 

Claude Monet, "The Break-up of the Ice," 1880, oil on canvas, University of Michigan Museum of Art, acquired through the generosity of Russell B. Stearns (LS&A, 1916), and his wife Andree B. Stearns, Dedham, Massachusetts, 1976/2.134

The announcement of the pop-up ice rink was understandably overshadowed this week by news of the MFAH's $450 million campus expansion plan, which was formally announced on Tuesday at a grand luncheon in—you guessed it—Cullinan Hall. (Although it's hard to display art there, the space does yeoman service for grand dinners and receptions.) The spectacular new buildings by Steven Holl and Lake | Flato won't begin to take form for years, but you can enjoy the rare privilege of ice skating in a Mies van der Rohe building this weekend. 

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