The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Built in 1958 and extended in 1974, 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 connects the Mies building to a monumental stone addition by Rafael Moneo and the encyclopedic museum now houses more than 65,000 works. Louvered skylights bathe galleries in the Moneo building 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. The museum recently unveiled a new cafe and gift shop. Entry is free on Thursday evenings.