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What You Need to Know to Appreciate The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Initially established in the early 20th century, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is more than just an art museum. It’s a sprawling cultural complex comprising several buildings built over the past century, including two house museums hosting European and American decorative arts, the Glassell School of Art, a movie theater, and a visitor center. MFAH, as it’s referred to locally, is an iconic institution that draws visitors from all over the country to enjoy its nearly 70,000-piece art collection.


Exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

MFAH exhibits showcase art from around the world. From the ancient antiquities of the Middle East and the Mediterranean, to classic European, to wide-ranging Latin American pieces, you’d be hard-pressed to find a corner of the globe that isn’t represented.

While the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, consistently hosts ever-changing temporary exhibits, its permanent collection is awe-inspiring. With so many options, it’s hard to choose what to admire first!

  • Latin American Art: Prepare to be amazed by over 2,000 paintings, photographs, works on paper, sculptures, and more, all created by artists with roots in South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, as well as US-based Latinos.
  • American Painting and Sculpture: Don’t miss priceless works ranging from the 18th century to the 1940s, including paintings from well-known artists such as Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, and Georgia O’Keefe.
  • Arts of Africa, Oceania & the Americas: Gaze at pre-Columbian pieces created before Columbus ever set foot on American shores, art from the native peoples of Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, and more in this stunning collection.
  • Decorative Arts, Craft, & Design: Modern day Etsy enthusiasts will get a kick out of this diverse collection which showcases everything from handcrafted 17th-century furniture to Helen Williams Drutt’s eclectic collection of jewelry from 175 artists spread across the world.
  • Prints & Drawings: The MFAH’s comprehensive collection of varied mediums encompasses watercolors, pastels, drawings, prints, and extending from the Middle Ages to modern day.
  • Antiquities: Almost 450 pieces make up this extraordinary collection of artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Near East.
  • Arts of Asia: With an assortment that spans nearly five millennia and contains art from such far-reaching countries such as Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Korea, and the Himalayas, this remarkable exhibit allows you to see vastly different cultures captured through an artist’s eye.
  • European Art: Contemplate the masterworks of artistic geniuses in an exhibit that hosts broad-reaching pieces created centuries before the Renaissance and extending to the early 20th century.
  • Modern & Contemporary Art: Boasting works from six continents, this exhibit contains various works encompassing the Surrealist, Cubist, Pop Art eras, and more.
  • Rienzi: Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III deeded their home and vast collection of 17th–19th-century decorative arts and furnishings to MFAH in 1997, adding new art for visitors to enjoy, as well as a beautiful garden.
  • Art of the Islamic Worlds: The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, has been building its collection of artifacts, paintings, carvings, metalwork and more from ancient Islam cultures since 2007 in this not-to-be-missed exhibit.
  • Bayou Bend: Another former residence (this one owned by Ima Hogg) is situated on sprawling gardens and has over 2,500 pieces of furniture, prints, paintings, ceramics—virtually any type of artistic medium you could imagine created between the early 17th and late 19th centuries.
  • Film: Cinema-lovers will be enthralled by this exhibit, which explores every possible angle of film as a method of communication and artistic expression since its inception in 1878.
  • Photography: Shutterbugs take note—you’ll want to spend hours in this immersive collection of prints from over 4,000 photographers taken through the decades.
  • Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation: Ms. Blaffer’s exquisite collection of Renaissance and Baroque art lives on today in this stunning exhibit, along with her "cabinet of curiosities," which is filled with exotic and rare objects from around the world.


Events at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

MFAH hosts a variety of events year-round that cater to all ages. Families will appreciate the Sunday Family Zone, where kids three and up can enjoy coloring and other activities that teach them to appreciate art in a fun way, or the Sunday Family Studio, a two-hour workshop in which children create their own art. Older patrons will delight in "thirsty" Thursday Happy Hours, where visitors can nosh on food truck nibbles and adult beverages while listening to live music. Check the official MFAH calendar for the most up-to-date happenings.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Hours

MFAH’s visiting hours make it easy for visitors to come at times convenient for them. It is open seven days a week, but be sure to check the official website for the day you’re planning to visit, as there may be special events that impact the regular hours of operation.

Where to Park at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Parking at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is easy to come by. It offers two garages—one underground and one above ground—both of which are within easy walking distance to the museum. Check the official website for parking prices.

How Much Are Tickets to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston?

You can purchase regular price tickets on the MFAH website or at the Museum. Ticket prices may vary, so check online for the most up-to-date information.


Is The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Free?

if you’re looking to get into the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for free, there are a few possibilities for adults: present your Texas ID or visit on a Thursday. Kids under 12 are always free.

Can You Take Pictures at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston?

Yes, you can take pictures at the MFAH, but if you want to document your trip, you need to follow some basic rules:

  • You may only take still, no-flash pictures
  • All photos must be for non-commercial use only
  • There are some exhibits and artwork where you are not permitted to take photos. Check with Museum staff or check the Museum's policies prior to your visit.

Experience the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for Less With CityPASS

Save a bundle with a Houston CityPASS, which gives you access to the museum and plenty of other top Houston attractions at a significant savings. Choose from such exciting destinations as Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and more! For visitors and residents alike, it’s the perfect option for enjoying Houston’s top tourist spots.

Header Image © Jenny Antill. Courtesy of: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston