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Arts & Culture

Menil Will Temporarily Close For Repairs

From February 26 through this summer, the museum’s main building will be closed for a series of maintenance, repairs and upgrades

Don Glentzer / The Menil Collection
The Menil Collection’s main building is located at 1533 Sul Ross and will temporarily close to the public on February 26, 2018.

It all started with the fire detectors, which are 30 years old and need to be replaced.

In order to replace them, Menil Director Rebecca Rabinow says that they would have to move the artwork. So in that case, with the art safely out of the way, they decided they would refinish the wood floors, which have been worn down by millions who have visited the museum since it opened in 1987.

To do the floors, you have to take down the non-load-bearing walls. And this gave the curatorial staff a chance to reimagine the installation space.

When the museum reopens with those walls repositioned, "It will feel very familiar to people who love the Menil, but they can be sure that they will see some of their favorite works of art, as well as things that have never before been on view," Rabinow said.

In addition, exterior lighting will be replaced and interior gallery lighting enhanced.

"The way I describe it is – it will feel as if everyone has just had their eye prescriptions renewed, put on those glasses, and it will be tweaked and clearer, and everything will just feel very fresh and new."

Like the artwork it houses, the building itself is a work of art – a historic and award-winning piece of architecture designed by Renzo Piano – which needs to be kept looking its best.

"It's Houston ... anyone who has a home here [knows], the weather has an impact on everything, living and walking in spaces [make] an impact, and so in order to show anything to the best advantage, it has to be maintained."

Rabinow notes that the building was very fortunate not to have suffered any flood damage from Harvey, and calls the temporary closure a rare and exciting opportunity to implement these improvements.

"I think it just goes to the Menil's core of wanting to do things the right way and taking the time to do them correctly."

While the building is closed over the next several months, other parts of the Menil campus (Cy Twombly Gallery, Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall, Byzantine Fresco Chapel and greenspaces) will remain open as usual, offering exhibits, concerts, lectures and performances.

"Throughout the spring and summer, there will be a lot of activities and I hope it will bring a renewed awareness to some of these other, perhaps slightly less well-known, arts buildings that are part of the Menil Collection," said Rabinow.

The main building closes to the public on February 26, 2018 and is expected to reopen soon after Labor Day.

Listen to the complete interview with Rebecca Rabinow, below:


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Correction: In the audio, Director Rabinow meant to say “non-load-bearing walls” instead of “load-bearing walls” when referring to their removal.

Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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