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The Menil Collection

Address: 1515 Sul Ross Street, Houston, TX 77006

11:00 a.m – 7:00 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday
The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Cost: Always free.

Appropriate Age:   Ahh, well, hmm.  You should decide based on what you want to do.

Our Review:  The Menil Campus is located next to St. Thomas University.  It includes The Menil Collection, Rothko Chapel, Cy Twombly Gallery, Menil Bookstore, Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum and Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall.  The campus is anchored by Renzo Piano’s first American building where ever-changing exhibitions, ranging from antiquities to modern and contemporary art, are displayed.

Also in the campus are several green areas, benches, and one red tree swing.  When the weather is nice, the spaces are filled with people  enjoying this piece of urban Houston.  Regardless of the weather, people are walking dogs, pushing strollers or reading in the shade.

My kids and I have spent a lot of time on the Menil campus.   Mostly outside.   That said, since the museum is always free, it is worth checking out, even with kids. When I have visited The Menil Collection with my 2 and 4 year old, my strategy has been to go into the main building, sit on a bench and look at one collection (and enjoy the air conditioning) and then head out to the bookstore.  (If I took only one child, and only had to run in one direction, I could definitely spend more time in the museum.)

At the bookstore we can get the old fashioned glass bottles of Coke and enjoy them on the bench outside.  (The Cokes are $2 each… but remember, the museum is free.)  I usually bring some paper and crayons along in case my young artists are feeling inspired.

After our drink break, my kids run around in the grass until they are hot and tired and have burned off all their Coke energy. At this point we call it a day and head home to more air conditioning.

I really enjoy the Menil campus and recommend you check it out. Be sure to check out The Menil Collection, and the other buildings. Just be flexible with your day!


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1 Comment

  1. Christine
    August 3, 2017 at 4:01 am — Reply

    My sister and I took our 7 year olds and we were treated so poorly that we left before finishing the exhibit. Our children were quiet and interested in the artwork. As we looked at an abstract painting behind a piece of glass and identified all the animals, we were soon lectured about the oil in our fingers and the paintings. We never once touched that painting or any other.

    The exhibit hall was very dark and my daughter would go up to the name plates on the wall and read the name of the artist, title of the painting, and the year it was painted. I would get close to these placards as well to read them because they were so small and they were hard to read. We had no idea these were regarded as highly as the artwork was. Step back from the wall and do touch them was our admonishment. My daughter was using her finger to follow the line as she read. She never touched them. So much for our lesson on foreign language.

    The final straw was in last room of the surrealism exhibit. My nephew was walking from piece to piece looking. His mother followed him to every piece and discussed they what he saw. The docent went to my sister and said they would be kicked out if she failed to hold his hand. Anything either of the kids did that was remotely inappropriate, we were on it. They never touched anything. After my sister was given such a stern admonishment, I looked at her said let’s go. On our way out, that same docent asked if we saw Mickey Mouse with a warm smile on her face.

    There was only one lady who treated us kindly and permitted us to look without any intrusion was in the room where the prehistoric Mickey was! The room was very dark and we had a very hard time seeing some of the objects in the case, but she was polite and saw that we were indeed watching our children closely.

    The other docents acted like secret service agents, communicating in their earpiece, mic devices as the art assassins made their way through the exhibit. My point is this. If you do not want children to experience the museum, please list the age when and if they ever become welcome. I am not the type of parent who take my children “adult only” establishments and insist that my child will not disturb others. Our children were well behaved and aware that other people were also looking with them. I felt the staff was rude and extinguished an opportunity for these curious kids. This was my favorite museum, but no more. Very disappointed. I will pass this on to the museum as well.

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