A Trip to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Art ・MLA

As a pupil who appreciates art, I have always been intrigued by a day trip to the museum as I believe that is where the depth of the whole thing built of creativity is found. At one point, I decided to go to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH) and I believe that this was one of the first-class decisions I made. I always operate a personal research concerning a museum prior to visiting it and I loved each the reviews and the information about MFAH. First, the museum is pretty large covering to buildings; Audrey Jones Beck and the Caroline Wiess Law Buildings. Within it, there are schools, studios and gardens which made me very excited and anxious to visit.

The day I went visiting MFAH, I found out that the museum hosts the Glassell School of Art, Glassell Junior School and a Studio School of Art used primarily by adults. Within it, there are museums that exhibit decorative arts, eighteen acres of Gardens (such as the Garden of Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture), the Bayou Bend Collection, and Rienzi. On reaching the museum, I found a number of MFAH staff at the door and they were quite helpful especially with the knowledge regarding the history of the museum. One of the members of the staff began by explaining why MFAH is revered not just as a large museum, but because it also hosts a number of art pieces that date up to several thousands of years.

From what I learnt, MFAH situated in Montrose, Houston and it is one of the oldest museums that displays art pieces in Texas. It was founded by fine women including Emma Richardsom Cherry as the Public School Art League in 1900. The staff at MFAH said that the women’s intention was to encourage the culture of art within the public school. The members of the league also offered lessons on art and there was also an exhibition held in the Scanlan Building downtown. The name of the museum was later changed to Houston Art League in the year 1913. The staff said that the change of the name was for the sake of reflecting the broader focus of the museum.

I spent a lot of time in this building as it was quite large, and one of the most amazing pieces I found was the Summer Night on the Rhine created by Christian Edward Bottcher. The portrait found in section 113 was oil on canvas painting portraying a number of aspects including picturesque towns, medieval castles and a number of people gathered around a tree. If I could explain the scene in one word, I would say it is romantic, captured in perfection and consisting of every minute detail that brings the portrait to life. Just by looking at the painting I could hear the laughter from the people, with the men trying to woo the women using flowers. The artist brought out a perfect hue indicating moonlight, an aspect that made me want to be a part of the celebration inside the painting.

Later on in the year 1924, the museum changed its name to The Houston Art League which was later amended to a state charter in the year 1929. The official name became MFAH in the 1960’s through the influence of the trustees. After this brief lesson, I proceeded to the first level of the museum also known as the Audrey Jones Beck building. Here, I could see some exhibits on American art and antiquities from the period 1800 to 1970. I was particularly intrigued by some of the furniture given by Ima Hogg from her home in her plantation. The furniture was not only exquisite but quite intriguing based on the intricate decorations.

Within the same level, I walked and found a section 107 where I found the Victorian Bouquet. From the information in the museum, the piece was developed by the German Severin Roesen between 1850 and 1855. I have never been so close to oil on canvas painting from over a century ago and I found the bouquet made of fruits and flowers quite intriguing. As I tried to understand some of the stylistic devices used in the brush work, one of the staff members came and told me that it was part of the old system of painting still life. From what I know regarding this period, all the paintings were commissioned and they were a symbol of life and wealth. The colors used in the painting were so vibrant that they truly shouted life.

I proceeded to view the other pieces within the same building and I was very much intrigued by what I saw on section 109. There were numerous art works from various periods and the one that stood out were the Tiffany lamps also known as A Wooden Landscape in Three Panels. This piece was made of stained glass stuck on each other in such a way that they resemble a puzzle. The pieces of glass were placed in layers in such a way that they came up with a unique pattern, and the choice of colors keeps changing and shimmering in response to the light. One thing that I did not understand was why the artist made the piece as big as I found it useless. If a lamp is expected to be at the top, I believe that it would make more sense if it was smaller.

Once I was done, I went to the Caroline Wiess Law Building that housed a variety of art pieces. I did not know that some artists were so extravagant until I visited the second floor of the building. Here, I managed to interact with one of the members of staff who appeared so knowledgeable on oriental art and he introduced me to the Fallen Star 1/5. This piece has its roots in Korea, and one of the best things about it was the way the artist blended numerous materials to come up with a humongous piece. Some of the materials that make up the piece include beech, basswood, glass, plastic, enamel paint and ceramic among others. Such a perfect combination of various elements can only be achieved by a passionate artist.

Even though I spent several hours at the museum, I feel like I still need to go back. There are so many pieces that I would want to examine closely and even write a curative piece regarding the various times of their creation. The staff members at MFAH are quite helpful and I learned a lot from most of them. I got an opportunity to see art from a different perspective and since the place covers up to 300 acres, I still have a lot to cover. The experience was more than what I expected and I will carry a friend the next time I take that trip.

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