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Museum of Fine Arts Houston Expansion


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Went yesterday and it was amazing.  Very well done. The architecture, the exhibits, everything.  Here are some photos:            

A couple of pics of the ceiling in the main atrium, taken from the third floor. As you can see, there’s tons of natural light augmented with some artificial light. I can’t wait to see this building on

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2 hours ago, DarklyMoron said:

Will you be working on the Ismaili center? Willard Holmes said that was the next big project for McCarthy.

Unfortunately not. I worked for the subcontractor that installed the cool jacket tube glass, the clerestory glass, and the curtain walls around the building. 

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On 11/15/2020 at 11:24 PM, rgarza said:

Unfortunately not. I worked for the subcontractor that installed the cool jacket tube glass, the clerestory glass, and the curtain walls around the building. 

Then you may be able to explain this fun little anomaly in the glass tubes. Is there any reason for the inverted corner, or is it just because?

6BF4006E-6986-45B4-A744-7D29F1693920.jpeg

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19 minutes ago, DarklyMoron said:

Then you may be able to explain this fun little anomaly in the glass tubes. Is there any reason for the inverted corner, or is it just because?

6BF4006E-6986-45B4-A744-7D29F1693920.jpeg

Oh, that was just to give us recurring nightmares and to look cool lol

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BB1b8xEJ.img?h=416&w=799&m=6&q=60&u=t&o=

 

^^^ @rgarza my pal, you didn't tell us about this drop dead gorgeous 215-seat auditorium/theater at the soon to open MFAH.  what a remarkably/beautiful addition.  i am still struggling with the overall exterior of this burgeoning and yet monumental MFAH structure.  upon my most honest personal opinion... i think that the exterior consisting of that GOD AWFUL frosted glass tubing... is the most UGLY/HORRIFIC THING EVER for a newly modern day constructed museum edifice that is costing in excess of ($475mm).  with a price tag that steep, EVERY ASPECT OF THIS remarkable edifice should be something that DREAMS ARE MADE OF.  nonetheless, let's talk about the INTERIOR design.  once again, upon my most personal view, in lieu of observing many of the posted illustrations throughout this burgeoning MFAH thread, the interior design looks like a small slice of PURE HEAVEN.  the billowing and barrel ceilings, the seemingly never-ending space, the pure and unadulterated opulence... like, everywhere you look.  the way that the ART SEEMS TO COME  TO LIFE throughout this magnificent structure, the SOOTHING and yet state-of-the-art LIGHTING EFFECTS throughout, and the seamless flow of pure/raw energy emanating from the MFAH staffers as they prepare this place for it's opening.     HOUSTON, is a very fair, and yet, hard working blue collar city.  it always has been.  however, upon your visit, this small slice of PURE HEAVEN... is going to catapult your very soul and overall well-being into the stratosphere...

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The building is amazing. I wish I had more time to take everything in, but I had to run. Next time.. 

The guide recommended we take the elevator to the top and work our way down. With the flow around the open central atrium and stairs, I couldn’t help but think of Wrights Guggenheim. 
The Kusama infinity room is closed right now. I heard multiple variations for why, from not being able to manage capacity while it’s busy during this free grand opening week(?), but “should be open after that”, to the unfortunately more likely reason, covid. 
The skylights in the tunnel between the Kinder and Glassell buildings were very Turrell-esque. The other tunnel towards the Law building was already getting blocked by people getting their picture taken, with the rainbow colored light filling the backdrop. 

I’d post pictures, but the file size limit is ridiculous.

 

Oh, the Glassell rooftop is still closed, but the new awning shade doesn’t look too bad from the ground level.

Edited by cloud713
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DistortedQuarterlyGavial-small.gif

MFAH_logo.jpg?format=1000w

Rich-and-Nancy-Kinder-Photo-by-Wilson-Pa

^^^ nancy and rich kinder

 

^^^ @DarklyMoron @rgarza and to any other HAIF stalwarts that are associated to whatever degree... to the newest MFAH CROWN JEWEL now open within our fair city of houston, tx... CONGRATULATIONS!  thank you kindly for your hard work, constant insight and updates, and all around knowledgeable contributions to this burgeoning MFAH thread.  SALUTE!  

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How are y’all adding so many pictures to a post? The mobile site only lets me add 3 pictures from my phone before there’s no room left. The max file size for me says 7.31mb, which isn’t even 1/4th the file size for one jpeg picture from my actual camera..?

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12 minutes ago, cloud713 said:

How are y’all adding so many pictures to a post? The mobile site only lets me add 3 pictures from my phone before there’s no room left. The max file size for me says 7.31mb, which isn’t even 1/4th the file size for one jpeg picture from my actual camera..?

Upload your pictures to Imgur then right click the image and click "Copy Image Address" then paste that into your reply and it should automatically change the image address into the image itself.

 

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It's curious that NY Times has not reviewed the architecture of this building. They did an article on the Latin American art, but no mention of the architecture. Their architecture critic, Michael Kimmelman, seems immersed in politics these days, judging by his Twitter feed.

 

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16 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

It's curious that NY Times has not reviewed the architecture of this building.

Kimmelman seems more interested in the anthropological aspects of architecture than architectural criticism. My bet is one of the art critics, like Roberta Smith, will cover it but mainly focusing on the installation. It would be nice to see more reviews of the building. Not many papers have architecture critics anymore. I grew up reading Thomas Hine in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Chronicle has poor Molly Glentzer covering everything from art to ballet.

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36 minutes ago, DarklyMoron said:

Kimmelman seems more interested in the anthropological aspects of architecture than architectural criticism. My bet is one of the art critics, like Roberta Smith, will cover it but mainly focusing on the installation. It would be nice to see more reviews of the building. Not many papers have architecture critics anymore. I grew up reading Thomas Hine in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Chronicle has poor Molly Glentzer covering everything from art to ballet.

 

Well, they did an article already on the installation. Weird that they don't have a normal architecture critic anymore. Typically whoever their critic was was de facto critic for the country. I guess Blair Kamin in Chicago would be the closest thing to that now?

 

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19 minutes ago, Texasota said:

The Inquirer has Inga Saffron but I don't think she gets out of the Philly area that often.

All I can say about Inga Saffron is that she wrote a pretty negative review of the Kimbell's Renzo Piano addition a while back. When I met the Kimbell's director (and this was years later), he was still smarting from that review. 

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1 hour ago, H-Town Man said:

Well, they did an article already on the installation.

I would call that a pre-opening feature on Mari Carmen and MFAH's prescience in collecting Latin American art. I would hope they'd do a real review of the entire Kinder installation. What will be interesting is their take on our representation of modern and contemporary art. Houston does not follow the modern art canon like Moma. Each department was essentially doing its own thing until this building brought them all together. So they sometimes complement one another, sometimes not. They may find it refreshing or jarring. We'll see.

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4 hours ago, jermh said:

This is a seriously cool expansion. I only made it up the first two floors, so I'll have to go back since I ran out of time.

 

TIP: I found out the hard way if you wear a backpack, they will make you wear it on your front or carry it by the handle.

 

MFA Houston -  Nancy and Rich Kinder Building

 

MFA Houston -  Nancy and Rich Kinder Building

 


Ah yeah, the backpack policy is pretty standard for museums. We asked the same when I worked at the Blaffer, assuming the person wasn't comfortable with us holding their bag up front. Surprisingly, not one person made a comment to me on Saturday about my camera bag/backpack.

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20 hours ago, jermh said:

TIP: I found out the hard way if you wear a backpack, they will make you wear it on your front or carry it by the handle.

 

15 hours ago, cloud713 said:

Ah yeah, the backpack policy is pretty standard for museums. We asked the same when I worked at the Blaffer, assuming the person wasn't comfortable with us holding their bag up front. 

 

As I don't normally wear a backpack, I've never encountered this before. It was enough of a "wtf" moment that it sent me in search of the rationale behind such policies, at which point I discovered that they are indeed very common and make a lot of sense:

 

In US museums, why are backpacks only allowed to be carried on one shoulder?

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Finally made it to the museum last week. The glass tubes have grown on me, mainly because I know there's a function behind them, and because I have accepted that this is the facade, it's not going to change. The inside of the building is a true marvel. I am not a person who loves post-structuralist architecture, preferring symmetry and a visible logic to the building form, but with this building there is nonetheless a sense of majesty and aspiration that translates to any architectural language. It is the type of building that you find yourself pulling out your phone compulsively and taking pictures as you discover new angles, new little surprises in the juxtaposition of forms, new interesting spots and corners that you wonder if anyone else has discovered. I love the central well, the staircase, and of course the roof. The pod-like nature of the galleries, where you can't travel very far before being pushed back out into the common area, is both a strength and a weakness. It allows many separate themes and collections to be juxtaposed without needing to connect them, but it lacks the adventurous labyrinth feel of the Beck building's second floor.

The central well or atrium gives Houston a monumental interior space that will be the most memorable space of any of its museums and one of the defining spaces in the city. I could only wish that there was a little more light from the top, as at the Guggenheim in New York; the space has a slight dismal feel, especially since the bright windowed spaces on the first floor outcompete the light of the central space, leaving the sense of a weak center. In contrast, the main atrium of the Beck building is lit just right, and one emerges from the darker entrance/ticketing area with a triumphant feeling. Of course, walking into the Beck atrium now after seeing the Kinder building, the space feels small and a little dingy by comparison. It is no longer MFAH's living room; more like the guesthouse or mother-in-law wing.

An unexpected surprise is the benefit to the streetscape along Binz, and the Carolyn Wiess Law building across. Now that there is a defined streetscape, the Law building looks better than I have ever seen it. It feels intimate in a way that it never did before, when it felt like you were walking up to a big box store from the parking lot. The interior of the Law building is another matter. The old entrance area now that the doors are closed off looks like a vacant space in a mall. The giant interior space just feels pointless altogether. I don't think I've ever seen an exhibit there that made me feel like it deserved so much of the building's volume. Especially now that the building is devoted to collections of artifacts from world cultures, more anthropology than art, those collections are being robbed of space, particularly the Islamic collection which feels like it is pushed into closets on either side of the entrance space. I know Mies did this building, but at some point I think a remodeling of the interior has to be considered.

Lastly, it is nice that the American art collection has a larger space on the first floor of the Beck building, but you wonder if every single placard for a Western painting needs to remind us that the land was taken from the native Americans and their culture was appropriated. The placards for the Islamic collection for instance do not tell us that Persian (Sassanid) and preexisting polytheist Arabic cultures were appropriated, or that land was taken from Christians and Jews. The Romans also I think were rather ruthless appropriators of Greek culture, and so on. But it's 2020, and this too shall pass. It did seem like a couple of the familiar Remingtons were missing, paintings that helped put MFAH on the map. There are not too many artists for which MFAH can say that they have some of their very best work, instead of say the 90th best Rembrandt or the 200th best Monet, so it might be well to keep these together.

All in all, this has become an extraordinary museum campus, the kind that you can spend days at. It is time to get the word out; just absurd that 95% of their visitors are still from the Houston area. I think with the quality of what they have, it is only a matter of time.

Edited by H-Town Man
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28 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

FWIW, One imagines that if the Law Building doors are currently closed, it might be because of the COVID-induced reduced operating capacity.

Maybe but they have taken away the admissions desk in that area and hung art around the space. I think it's more likely because there is no more parking lot across the street so it would be a seldom used entrance and there is no need to duplicate admissions staff. Also allows for more exhibit space.

 

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21 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

Maybe but they have taken away the admissions desk in that area and hung art around the space. I think it's more likely because there is no more parking lot across the street so it would be a seldom used entrance and there is no need to duplicate admissions staff. Also allows for more exhibit space.

 

 

I think the Law Building admissions desk was relocated to the side quite some time ago.  And there's this from the MFAH website regarding admissions adjustments due to COVID:

 "On the main campus, a single designated visitor entrance, at the Audrey Jones Beck Building (5601 Main Street)."

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2 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

I think the Law Building admissions desk was relocated to the side quite some time ago.  And there's this from the MFAH website regarding admissions adjustments due to COVID:

 "On the main campus, a single designated visitor entrance, at the Audrey Jones Beck Building (5601 Main Street)."

I didn't see any admissions desk in that area (do you mean to the side of the former entrance area or the side of the building on Main Street?). And there is another visitor's entrance currently open in the Kinder building, so that notice cannot be up to date. You can research further but I'm not sure what's at stake here. If they do bring it back as an entrance, great.

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The Law entrance is only closed to limit the staff needed for screening, etc. It will be reopened whenever we return to normal. 
@H-Town ManI think your point about the interior having a slightly dismal feel is interesting. The new Menil drawing center mitigates that transition from the bright outdoors to the necessary dimness for works on paper rather well. Harder in a space like Kinder with the mix of mediums. And I agree that Law and really the entire campus looks and feels so much more cohesive and smart. Just that little bit of landscaping in the median does a lot to connect the two buildings. I get your point about the pods. I used to love going to the Met in NY and getting utterly lost in some wing. That said, I think most would argue for clear way finding. And I’d suggest that for a newbie visitor, this expanded campus gives you many opportunities to get lost. Imagine directing someone from the Glassell entrance to the European paintings.

Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful observations.

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4 hours ago, DarklyMoron said:

The Law entrance is only closed to limit the staff needed for screening, etc. It will be reopened whenever we return to normal. 
@H-Town ManI think your point about the interior having a slightly dismal feel is interesting. The new Menil drawing center mitigates that transition from the bright outdoors to the necessary dimness for works on paper rather well. Harder in a space like Kinder with the mix of mediums. And I agree that Law and really the entire campus looks and feels so much more cohesive and smart. Just that little bit of landscaping in the median does a lot to connect the two buildings. I get your point about the pods. I used to love going to the Met in NY and getting utterly lost in some wing. That said, I think most would argue for clear way finding. And I’d suggest that for a newbie visitor, this expanded campus gives you many opportunities to get lost. Imagine directing someone from the Glassell entrance to the European paintings.

Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful observations.

Then Houston 19514 was right. I do wish they'd lose the entrance space there and let the Islamic collection flow across. The vast central exhibit space is still I think the major issue hamstringing the building but it will be seen as blasphemy to alter Mies' design.

You are right, the whole campus affords many opportunities to get lost.

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