The first museums were in caves, and the first docent grunted and asked, "Ruurrttt gurgagag, tontogosh jabba tu wanga?" Continue to ponder this ageless question with today's Groupon. For $45, non-members get a one-year contributor membership to the Menil Collection, a private repository of global human cultural achievement from the Triassic period to the present day (a $100 value). Though the museum never charges admission to anyone, membership comes with a long list of perks, including invitations to all exhibition previews for your entire household, invitations to lectures and special programs including a class series on the museums collection and history, and a 10% discount on the museum store. This deal also entitles you to a new members reception with museum director Josef Helfenstein on May 4. Read up on the full list of benefits here.
The Menil displays and protects the lifetime acquisitions of French expatriates and storied philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil. The de Menils hoped that opening their personal collection to the public would engender respect and love for all art and the human capacity to create and express itself. Under the ultra-modernist roof of the Menil, statues, masks, paintings, pottery, and an endless list of treasures stretching from ancient Greece through medieval Africa and even the Pacific Northwest mingle together and stand ready for admiration. In addition to its permanent pieces, the Menil hosts a variety of traveling and special exhibits, including an upcoming showcase of nouveau realist performance art and a whole section dedicated to pop-art innovator Steve Wolfe.
One of the biggest, broadest private ensembles of art in the nation, the Menil enforces a strict no-barbecue policy. Aside from the enlightening erudition, you'll also come away with a passion for art so profound, you'll save all your soup cans and frame all your old grade-school finger-paintings.
- Here, on display in an unremarkable neighborhood near the University of St. Thomas, is one of the world's great private collections...When you walk into the museum, there is nothing between you and the art -- no grand lobby with marble stairway, no large banners or gift shop vying for attention, no tickets to buy, no tape-recorded tours. Viewing the art becomes a direct and personal experience. – Frommer's
- The atmosphere is great and the art is fun and funky and ethnic. It is small enough that you can get through the whole museum in a few hours, or you can just spend an hour to so there going through one of the collections. – Heather k., Judy's Book
- How fortunate for we Houstonians to have an art collection such as this housed in such a tranquil setting. We love the Menil.....there is always an intriguing exhibit. – thumbelina, Citysearch
The Menil Collection
John and Dominique de Menil began collecting art in the 1940s, shortly after they had relocated from France to the United States. It didn't take long for the couple to amass nearly 16,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and rare books. Tired of tripping over Byzantine statues on the way to the kitchen, the de Menils decided to share their collection with the world.
The result is The Menil Collection, which opened in 1987 and has since become a fixture of Houston's Museum District. Here, visitors can browse priceless artworks and artifacts with origins that span the globe. With its minimalistic exterior and sweeping stretches of glass, the building itself is also something of a masterpiece. This is no accident—Dominque de Menil made sure that its design allowed for plenty of natural light to enhance visitors' experience and help the artworks grow big and strong.