Ice House

What's New at the MFAH?

Deciphering the many construction cranes surrounding the museum.

By Morgan Kinney April 24, 2018 Published in the May 2018 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Already the big boy of Houston’s Museum District, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is quickly rounding the bases on a massive, $450 million expansion that includes three brand-new buildings and a reimagining of its public space. Museum officials say they want to create a close-knit campus where visitors feel comfortable ditching the car in the new underground parking structures and spending a day bouncing between cafés, galleries, theaters, and gardens. Here’s what’s in store for Houston art lovers:

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Cloud Column by Anish Kapoor | Now on display at the Brown Foundation Plaza

Gary Tinterow, the museum’s director, says he snatched up the polished stainless-steel monolith—an earlier cousin of Chicago’s iconic Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”—in hopes of replicating its counterpart’s reputation as “one the most impressive and effective public sculptures of our era.” (Translation: Lots of selfies.)

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The Glassell School of Art | Opens May 20

Serving students of all skill sets and ages, the new building—constructed on the site of the original 1979 facility—features an agglomeration of studio and exhibition space all anchored by a dramatic broad-stepped central stairway. The school boasts a unique wedge-shaped profile and a kinetic exterior with an irregular tessellation of concrete and glass. “We were inspired to create a building that doesn’t sit still—an animated façade,” says museum COO Willard Holmes.

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The Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation | 2018 completion

MFAH conservators and curators can now collaborate in a centralized location carved from an existing parking garage where state-of-the-art facilities include a multistory painting-conservation laboratory bathed in northern light. “Before, these people, who are basically scientists, had been working in adapted, thrown-together rooms all over the place,” Holmes says. “We tried to create ideal conditions for the work they do.”

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The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building | 2020 completion

More than 50,000 square feet of brand-new gallery space will provide a dedicated home for 20th- and 21st-century art, the largest portion of the museum’s permanent collection.

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