Arts / Museums

Storied Houston Museum Prepares to Close for Much of 2018, But It’s Getting an Epic Sendoff Party: Night at The Menil Promises Plenty of After-Hour Thrills

BY // 02.07.18

As part of a long-gestating plan to renovate The Menil Collection’s main building at 1533 Sul Ross Street, museum officials revealed that the Renzo Piano-designed art jewel in the heart of Montrose will shutter Monday, February 26 — and remain closed for months, into the fall.

At least, it will go out with a proper (temporary) sendoff.

Set for February 22 from 5 to 9 pm, Night at The Menil is the final chance to see the museum’s acclaimed “Mona Hatoum: Terra Infirma” exhibition one last time. Featuring live music courtesy Keyun and the Zydeco Masters on the front lawn, the after-hours goodbye-for-now party will bring food trucks and extended hours.

The Menil is hopeful visitors will still come to the site’s 14-acre campus during the main building’s closure. All other appendices to the main building on Sul Ross will remain open this year, including the Cy Twombly Gallery, Richmond Hall’s permanent Dan Flavin installation, the restaurant Bistro Menil, the museum bookstore, and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, showing Francis Alys’s mesmerizing Fabiola Project through October. Rothko Chapel, a part of The Menil campus but a separate nonprofit entity, also remains open.

To keep visitors coming, the Menil has planned a diverse and exciting slate of programming from now throughout the fall. Some of our favorite spring picks include a concert from Dickie Landry, a founding member of the Philip Glass Ensemble (featured on the iconic Einstein on the Beach opera; Mr. Glass graced the Menil campus with a splendid outdoor performance in 2012) at the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, Friday, March 16 at 7 pm.

Another noteworthy night will be a collaboration among The Menil Collection, Houston Ballet, and the Merce Cunningham Trust. Arrivals and Departures: Cage, Cunningham, and Johns, is an hour-long performance blending John Cage compositions with dances choreographed by Merce Cunningham, with costumes and decor by Jasper Johns (reservations are required).

Author William Middleton, who penned an enormous, decade-in-the-making tome about John and Dominique de Menil titled Double Vision, will celebrate the book’s release March 27, at 7 pm at the Rothko Chapel (read PaperCity arts guru Catherine D. Anspon’s interview with Middleton here). Reservations required.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer), co-presented with Aurora Picture Show, serves as a showcase for filmmakers and videographers, who will aim their beamers (projectors) onto the exterior of the museum in a display of visual media, including the moving image and brilliant light (April 6, 8:30 to 10:30 pm).

All the above events are free, but RSVPs are recommended.

Upgrades and renovations to the Menil’s main building are expected to cost around $115 million, and the Museum’s Campaign for the Menil, completed in December 2017, exceeded its goal by bringing in more than $121 million.

The focus of the current renovation project is refurnishing the museum’s iconic loblolly pine floors, which have seen the wear and tear of 30 years diminish its shine. Replacing gallery walls, updating the museum’s interior and exterior lighting, and installing electronic fire detection sensors are other planned improvements.

Stay tuned: This fall, when the renewed Menil reopens, the museum will also exhibit treasures from its permanent collection that have never been on view for the public. All this, alongside the planned grand debut of the Menil Drawing Institute this year – that’s something to be excited about.

For additional details including a list of all the Menil’s spring programming and to secure reservations, click here.

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