Explore the gardens, architecture, music & art of the MFAH’s historical Rienzi

rienzi-mfah-houston-4
Dining Room of Rienzi | Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Brush up on your European arts during an enriching afternoon surrounded by manicured formal gardens and historical decorative art at Rienzi. 

Thought to be one of the most prized components of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, this house museum for European decorative arts is situated on four acres of wooded gardens in the historic River Oaks neighborhood.

Located on Kirby Drive between Lazy Lane and Shadder Way, the converted 1950s mansion turned art gallery features 17th to 19th-century antiques and home decor with informative docent-lead tours available for those looking to explore the sprawling home.

The home, which sits five miles from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston campus and about two miles from the MFAH’s historical Bayou Bend, holds a substantial collection of European decorative arts, including paintings, furnishings, porcelain, and extensive holdings of miniatures.

Rienzi’s house and garden welcome visitors each year for tours, family programs, lectures, concerts, and a variety special events.

rienzi-mfah-houston-1
The Gardens | Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Gardens

If tours aren’t for you –and even if they are, be sure to check out the 4.4-acre property’s formal gardens which are free to attend and open to the public daily.

Designed in the 1950s by noted landscape architect Ralph Ellis Gunn, Rienzi’s gardens are an accomplished combination of formal gardens and natural Texas woodlands.

Escape the noise of the city in the sanctuary of the gardens seasonal plants, rich palette of flowers blooming, lush green spaces, roaming wildlife, and during the springtime, a particularly colorful display of blooming plant species.

A docent-guided tour of the gardens is available upon request with advance planning.

rienzi-mfah-houston-3
Docent-Lead Home Tour | Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Home Tours & More

Because of the unique and intimate nature of Rienzi, visits to the house and art collection are by docent-led tour only.

Time slots fill up quickly, so reserve your spot in advance. Visitors without reservations will be accommodated as space permits. Click here to call 713-639-7800 and make your reservation.

With advance notice, Rienzi offers docent-led tours in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Farsi, Czech, Hindi, and Russian.

Hour-long tours of the Rienzi home are offered Wednesday to Saturday at 10am, 11am, noon, 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm, and Sundays at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. Rienzi is closed during the entire month of August each year.

Rienzi’s gardens are free to attend and open for self-guided visits every day of the week Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4:30pm and Sundays from 1pm to 4:30pm.

rienzi-mfah-houston-0
Rienzi by Night | Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Before You Visit

Drop-in visits are welcome, but reservations are recommended. The touring schedule may fill up during group tours or peak visiting months. Calling ahead helps ensure your preferred tour time will be available.

Rienzi asks that all personal items be stored in lockers during the tour and asks guests to arrive 10 minutes early so that you can store your belongings and start the tour on time.

Flash photography is not permitted in the house. Professional photography, lighting equipment, tripods, monopods, and smoking are strictly prohibited.

Onsite parking is available but limited. Rienzi is closed during the month of August each year.

rienzi-mfah-houston-5
The Foyer of Rienzi | Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

About Rienzi

Rienzi, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) house museum for European decorative arts, is the former home of philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III and was designed by prominent Houston architect John Staub in 1952.

Opened to the public in 1999, the 4.4-acre Rienzi property sits in the Homewoods division of River Oaks and is nestled on two sides by steep ravines leading to Buffalo Bayou.

rienzi-mfah-houston-2
Camellia Garden | Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Rienzi

  • Location: 1406 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77019
  • Hours: Home Tours: Wednesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm; Sunday 1pm to 5pm; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Garden: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4:30pm and Sundays from 1pm to 4:30pm. Rienzi is closed during the entire month of August each year.
  • Reservations: 713-639-7800
  • Parking: Free onsite parking is available but limited.
  • Admission: $8 for adults; $4 for MFAH members; $5 for seniors (65+ with ID), students (with ID), and youth (13 to 18); free for children 12 and younger.
rienzi-mfah-houston-7
Rienzi Reflecting Pool | Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Previous articleMy Top 5: Dancer Sara Webb of Houston Ballet
Next articleWhere to Happy Hour in the Clear Lake Area
Cody Swann is a writer and musician born and raised in Houston. When he isn't recording or touring the country with his band, Wild Moccasins, he can be found covering live music and arts events for 365 Things to Do in Houston.