Bedrooms at Rienzi are nothing to yawn at. We’ve been re-awakened this year by the addition of a new gallery at the house museum, in what was once a bedroom of the original Masterson home. Named Isla’s Room, the gallery has white marble floors and a bright green ceiling, with full-length windows looking out to the pool below, and it’s the newest exhibition space at the MFAH.
From a curatorial perspective, this small room adds tremendous depth to the facility. At Rienzi, we aim to create an ambiance of a lived-in home; we don’t include the wall labels with dates or descriptions that are traditional within museums. Maintaining the balance between the home and art collection is one of our biggest challenges. But unlike the docent-led house tour, this room stands alone and can be explored by guests at their leisure. The new gallery acts as an exhibition “light box,” allowing us to feature elements of our collection in depth, without compromising the visitor’s experience of a home.
The room was renovated with museum-quality lighting and UV-protected window glass, in preparation for English Taste: The Art of Dining in the Eighteenth Century last fall. This spring season, we’ve opened with the first of what will be a series of rotating exhibitions: Dancing on Gilded Foot: KPM Porcelain at Rienzi, on view through July 2012 (see the next blog post for a tantalizing preview). The room has not previously been open to the public and is well worth the visit—and when’s the last time you’ve been invited for a peek into a museum’s bedroom?