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Eric M. Wolf

( Houston )

American art collection that opened in 1987. In 2015 the collection contained approximately 17,000 objects, specializing in modern and contemporary art (with particular strength in Surrealism, School of Paris, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, and Minimalism), antiquities, Byzantine art, and the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. While the vast majority of works in the museum come from the collection of its late founders, John and Dominique Menil, de, the museum continues to collect and grow its art collection.

The main building was designed by architect Renzo Piano and was his first solo museum commission (he had previously partnered with Richard Rogers in the design of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris) and his first commission in the USA. In 2013 this building won the Twenty-Five Year Award of the American Institute of Architects, recognizing architectural design of lasting significance. Sited in a residential neighbourhood in Houston’s Montrose district, the modestly scaled museum building is surrounded by bungalows, houses, and smaller satellite galleries creating a campus-like environment. These surrounding properties are owned by the Menil Foundation and are painted a grey matching that of the wooden cladding on the main building. The museum features the first iteration of Piano’s signature glass roof, here suspended over large ferro-concrete ‘leaves’ or fixed louvres, which regulate the natural light entering the galleries. In addition to gallery space, the main building contains a conservation laboratory with studios for painting, object, and paper treatment, a research library, archives, museum offices, and the second floor ‘treasure rooms’, a sort of curated art storage making a large portion of the museum’s collection immediately available to curatorial staff and visiting scholars....