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Don't Hold Your Breath for the Menil Drawing Institute

The first building dedicated solely to modern drawing won't be opening in October anymore.

By Cara Maines July 27, 2017

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The Menil Drawing Institute as of July 27, 2017.

Image: Morgan Kinney

If you've passed by the dusty lot where the Menil Drawing Institute will eventually reside, it might not be a surprise that The Menil Collection just rescheduled the opening for its newest project. A new date has not yet been announced for the facility, previously scheduled to open October 7.

The opening has been pushed back because construction is taking longer than expected. In the coming months, the Menil staff plans to commission the building, move into the new space and install the art.

"Rather than rush to open the Menil Drawing Institute in early October, the trustees and I have decided to delay the festivities, to ensure that everything is perfect," Menil Director Rebecca Rabinow said in a release.

Museum directors have not yet announced a new opening date because they are currently in the process of rescheduling three exhibits, each by a living American artist: The Condition of Being Here: Drawings by Jasper Johns, Think of Them as Spaces: Brice Marden’s Drawings, and Roni Horn: When I Breathe, I Draw. Tommy Napier, assistant director of communications for the Menil, says the museum is trying to avoid cutting the exhibitions short so that they can run for their full lengths.

Napier told Houstonia that opening week events will be pushed as well. The festivities will begin with special member preview days, followed by a public ribbon cutting ceremony. The ribbon cutting may also include performances, readings and food trucks.

The Drawing Institute will be the Menil’s first new building in 20 years. Part of a $40 million project, the facility will also be the first free-standing building dedicated solely to the exhibition and study of modern drawing in the United States. While the Menil’s main museum was designed by Renzo Piano, the Drawing Institute was designed by Johnston Marklee.

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Artist rendering of the Drawing Institute's west entrance courtyard.

The Drawing Institute was originally established in 2008, but the construction of a new building to house the exhibits was announced in 2012. Traveling exhibitions Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective and Lee Bontecou: Drawn World, as well as the catalog of drawings by Jasper Johns, were presented through the Drawing Institute.

Starting next year, the Menil Collection will be closed for eight months so that the floors can be sanded and refinished. Other exhibition buildings, including Richmond Hall, Cy Twombly Gallery and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, will be open—and, of course, the Rothko Chapel, which is owned separately.

To learn more about the de Menil family and their cultural impact on Houston, read "Slow Dancing with the Muse" from our May 2013 issue.

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