Museum District

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


1001 Bissonnet St.,
United States,

Built in 1958, Mies van der Rohe's glass-and-steel pavilion, a renowned example of the International Style pioneered by the architect, changed the look of American museums—and the ways in which art is exhibited. Taking advantage of its soaring, translucent interiors, the MFAH made international news in the 1960's by displaying African figures and oceanic totems on impossibly tall pedestals that were placed among potted trees, and by suspending billboard-size canvases by Jackson Pollock and other artists from ceiling cables. Works are sometimes still displayed this way. An eerie tunnel of light by the artist James Turrell now connects the Mies building to a monumental stone addition by Rafael Moneo, which opened in 2000 and more than tripled the exhibition space in this encyclopedic museum housing more than 56,000 works. Louvered skylights bathe galleries in natural light, where blockbuster traveling exhibits are displayed. Across the street from the two edifices is the Cullen Sculpture Garden, designed by Isamu Noguchi.