7 Places to Visit at the Menil Until the Main Building Reopens

Isolated Mass/Circumflex (#2) by Michael Heizer | Photo courtesy of The Menil Collection

As of February 26, 2018, the beloved Menil Collection main museum building located at 1533 Sul Ross Street is temporarily closed to the public for restoration until Autumn 2018.

After 30 years of constant use, the museum’s floor is being restored to the appearance it had upon its opening in 1987. It addition, the building will get multiple spiffy new upgrades including new drywall, enhanced interior and exterior lighting, and updated fire detection sensors.

Fortunately for everyone, The Menil will continue to host public and member programs and the collection’s auxiliary buildings and green spaces within the 30-acre campus will remain open to the public with regular hours.

7 Things to Visit at the Menil Collection While the Main Museum Building is Closed

  • Byzantine Fresco Chapel – Set at the corner of Branard and Yupon Street, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel was opened in 1997 and designed by architect Francois de Menil to house an installation of two 13th Century Christian frescoes from Cyprus that were on loan. Today, the former site for the frescoes has been repurposed to house an experimental series of long-term art installations.
  • Cy Twombly Gallery – Adjacent to the main museum, the eponymous Cy Twombly Gallery houses in a literal box seemingly ancient and modern work of an artist that defies being put into a metaphorical box. Twombly, who came up in the New York art world of the early ’50s, is the only featured artist in this satellite gallery filled with his work that is reminiscent of minimalist paintings and antiquities.
  • Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall – Just a few blocks south of the main campus, set in a former grocery building on Richmond, visitors will find the final works of minimalist artist Dan Flavin. One of the founders of the Minimalism movement in the ’60s, Flavin’s creations at the Menil showcase the interplay between vivid neon lights and their surroundings with his largest work filling most of Richmond Hall’s interior space.
  • Menil Park – Located at the intersection of West Alabama and Mandell Street, Menil Park sits quietly set within the 30-acre Menil campus just west of the University of St. Thomas. Opened in conjunction with the Menil Collection in 1987, the park adds to this free-to-attend museum’s tranquil vibe with its shaded oak trees, gray residential/arts organization bungalows, and major sculptural works by artists Michael Heizer, Max Neuhaus, and Mark di Suvero installed on the park and campus lawns.
  • Rothko Chapel – Commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in 1964 and completed by 1971, the Rothko Chapel rests at the corner of Sul Ross and Yupon Street. A sacred space open to all, the chapel provides spiritual text for a variety of faiths that visit to devote time to prayer/meditation with eight moveable benches and 14 murals by American abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko. The huge paintings fill the interior with three walls of dark purple-hued triptychs and five walls with similar large single paintings.
  • Bistro Menil – Set between the Menil’s main building and its parking lot, the restaurant serves up classic and contemporary European dishes, salads, pizzas, panini sandwiches, entrées, light bites and more. Diners can enjoy everything from casually shared plates to full multi-course feasts with dishes influenced by France, Spain, Italy, and American classics designed to satisfy a wide range of palates.
  • Menil Bookstore – Guests can check out this museum gem, which sits just across the street from the Collection’s main entrance. Visitors can peruse a  wide array of catalogs from the Museum’s past/present exhibitions in addition to a slew of other popular art books. If that weren’t enough, you’re also likely to find plenty tech-forward gifts for yourself or a friend.
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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.