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Arts / Museums

The Social Event of the Century?

Vaunted Houston Museum Reveals Plans to Throw the Most Starry Gala Ever

BY // 03.21.17

It has happened just three times in 30 years. And now again, this December.

The jewel of the museum world, The Menil Collection, is throwing a ball to celebrate a milestone — a Surreal black-tie night to toast its first three decades and to support the ultimate legacy of the late Dominique and John de Menil.

This otherworldly evening is literally aligned with the stars: It takes place the night before the long moon, Saturday, December 2, honoring Louisa Stude Sarofim, the patroness, collector, and chairman of the board who steered the museum onward after her friend Dominique passed away in 1997.

Just in, these eagerly awaited details — The ball is titled Luminous, and be assured it will be, with chairs Allison Sarofim, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, and Menil daughter Adelaide de Menil; joined by honorary chairs, museum architect Renzo Piano — the Menil was Piano’s first ever commission in America — and French Ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud. And it has a special theme befitting this museum.

Returning to an idea realized by the 25th anniversary gala, a specific work of art will serve as leitmotif. Seeking to underscore the de Menils’ deep friendship with artists, the museum staff cast about for a fabled painting or sculpture that would embody that idea as well as shape the 30th Anniversary Ball.

Director Rebecca Rabinow suggested a walk through the museum might yield the answer. Voilà! There it was, amidst the vaunted Surrealism galleries: Max Ernst’s Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, 1955, a diminutive oil on wood panel, a gift from the artist to the de Menils, Christmas 1955.

The painter’s mysterious Merry Christmas landscape will be the subtle inspiration for events planner Todd Fiscus to create a wintry mise en scène. After the chair sextet weigh in, and the details of Fiscus’ artistry are agreed upon, Jackson Hicks will plan a fitting menu of culinary mastery.

PaperCity again returns as media sponsor, and we were privileged to be a Surreal fly on the wall at an early planning meeting. Let’s just say you do not want to miss this, most especially a very special late-night viewing within the museum’s hallowed halls.

Luminous: The Menil’s 30th Anniversary Ball, Saturday, December 2; tickets from $2,500, tables from $25,000; for more info contact Menil events department, 713.535.3173, events@menil.org.

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