The MFAH Archives highlights its collections with online exhibitions. Drawing on a variety of documents—including photographs, letters, ephemera, and more—the exhibitions feature stories from the museum's rich history.
How Exhibitions Are Made
Since its foundation in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has hosted over 2,500 exhibitions. The exhibitions have ranged in size and scope over the years, growing as the Museum refined its record-keeping practices. The records of those exhibitions are housed in the Museum’s Archives, in both the registrar's (RG05) and curatorial (RG04) records. Related records can be found in marketing (RG11) and education (RG08). The records reveal how the Museum has changed under its many directors and curators and also reflect on the evolution of artistic movements.
Texas Art at the MFAH
Since its inception in 1925, the MFAH has had a rich history of collecting and exhibiting work by Texas artists. The museum has presented more than 325 shows by artists from the Lone Star State, and the MFAH collections include some 2,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints by Texas artists. Peter C. Marzio, the museum's director from 1982 to 2010, once wrote that the works "not only offer a vivid portrait of the state seen through the eyes of its artists, but also challenge us to readdress our assumptions about regional art."
Wartime Records in the Collection of the MFAH Archives: Exploring the Intersection of War and the Art Community
Through archival holdings dating from World War I to the present, this online exhibition explores the various wartime roles adopted by the individuals and organizations that comprise the art community. It correspondes with the MFAH exhibition WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, an unprecedented look at the experience of war through the eyes of photographers, which was on view from November 11, 2012, through February 3, 2013.
The Garth Clark Gallery Archive: From the 20th Century into the New Ceramics Millennium
Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio amassed one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary ceramics in the world. The collection includes objects that date from 1940 to the present and holds more than 375 international works. Asian, African, and Latin American artists are represented, but European and American artists form the core of the holdings. In-depth surveys of artists such as Marek Cecula, Ruth Duckworth, Laszlo Fekete, Ken Ferguson, Anne Kraus, Richard Notkin, Akio Takamori, Beatrice Wood, Betty Woodman, and others demonstrate the range of artistic expression within the field and over the course of an artist´s career. Additionally, the collection contains work by artists who are known primarily for sculpture and painting but who also worked in clay, such as Arman, Sir Anthony Caro, Lucio Fontana, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg.
The Garth Clark Gallery Archive at the MFAH contains a wealth of information documenting the progression of modern and contemporary ceramics from the late 20th century into the 21st. The archive comprises artists' correspondence, gallery and press materials, publications, exhibition records and ephemera, photographs, and audio-visual materials.
Moments from MFAH History
Take a brief online tour through MFAH history: from the invitation for Homer Gaudens' address in 1924 inaugurating the Houston Art League that would become the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; through the desegregation of the museum's programming and audiences by founding MFAH director James Chillman; years of civic-minded patronage by the Hogg, Straus, Beck, and Masterson families; and 70 years of distinctive building expansions by architects William Ward Watkin, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Rafael Moneo.
A House Becomes a Museum: Bayou Bend and Miss Ima Hogg
Walk through the history of Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, once the family home of visionary collector, philanthropist, and Texas democrat Miss Ima Hogg and now the MFAH house museum for American decorative arts. A governor's daughter, educated in Austin, New York, Berlin, and Vienna, Miss Hogg (1882–1975) was a passionate woman and fierce competitor in the emerging field of American decorative arts.
Her legacy lives on in an unparalleled collection of American art and furnishings from the1620s to the 1870s in a John Staub-designed home set on 14 acres of meticulously crafted heirloom gardens. Further information and materials on the history of Bayou Bend are available at the MFAH Archives.
Maurice and Winifred Hirsch: World Travelers and Patrons of the Arts
Although the couple was deeply involved in Houston civic and social life, much of Maurice and Winifred Hirsch’s time was spent abroad. Through 36 years of marriage, they embarked on 27 world tours. Every trip provided a new opportunity to experience rare and beautiful objects. The finest artifacts often found a home in the collections of the MFAH, whether donated from the Hirsches' personal collection or purchased directly for the museum. View a selection of these gifts amid the life and travels of this prominent couple.
Houston’s Cultural Coming of Age: Festival of the Arts, October 1966
As the Festival of the Arts kicked off in October 1966, Houston celebrated its cultural coming of age. The keystone of the festivities—which engaged a multitude of Houston’s art organizations, large and small—was the opening of the Jesse H. Jones Performing Arts Center, funded and presented to the city by the Houston Endowment.
The Edward J Wormley Archive: “To Hold Fast to What Is Good”
The MFAH Archives acquired the Edward J Wormley Collection, a gift of the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation. Although considered a Modernist, Edward J Wormley (1907–1995) created affordable, stylish furnishings for American consumers who had neither the budget nor taste for pure Modernism. The Wormley collection includes more than 3,000 glass and film slides as well as photographic prints and textual records including catalogues, ephemera, correspondence, and clippings. A detailed feature, accompanied by a slideshow of images, is online here. Researchers are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Treasures from Egypt’s Golden Age
Tutankhamun Treasures, a 1962 loan exhibition from the Department of Antiquities of the United Arab Republic
Half a century ago, treasures from the tomb of King Tut first visited the United States in an exhibition from the Egyptian Museum, sponsored by the American Association of Museums and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution. On display from this significant period in Egyptian art: 34 precious objects and 18 photographs, which traveled to 15 U.S. museums over a two-year period. From March 16 to April 15, 1962, visitors to the MFAH South Garden Gallery had their first glimpse of a miniature gold coffin representing the mummified king; amulets and rings worn by the mummy; and a ceremonial crook, a symbol of high office.