Educational programs at Rienzi seek to inspire all audiences to engage with the collection through a variety of events and activities. Adult learners have the opportunity to attend lectures and gallery talks given by MFAH curators and visiting academics. Docent-led tours and special themed tours provide a more in-depth understanding of the collection and encourage close study of the art objects on view.
Music lovers enjoy opera recitals and period music performed in Rienzi’s intimate galleries. Interactive family programs such as storytime, family days, and art workshops create an engaging learning experience for the youngest visitors. Art students and aspiring artists are invited to Rienzi for periodic sketching. Rienzi’s high-quality educational programs will enlighten and delight every visitor.
Lectures & Discussions
One Thursday a month, Rienzi highlights a great work of art in the collection. Gallery talks are presented by curators, conservators, educators, and librarians. Admission is free, reservations encouraged. Call 713.639.7800.
Masonic Punch Bowl, 18th century
Speaker: Misty Flores, curatorial assistant, Rienzi
Cup and Saucer, mid-18th century
Speaker: Cindi Strauss, curator, modern and contemporary arts and design
Lit à la Polonoise, mid-18th century
Speaker: Dena Woodall, associate curator, prints and drawings
Salons at Sunset
Rienzi opens its doors at sunset! Treat yourself to a short, engaging lecture followed by a group discussion and wine reception. Admission is $18 for MFAH members and $20 for nonmembers. Tickets and more details at mfah.org/calendar.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
“Drinking with Dickens's Demons: Constructing Evil through Ethanol in the Victorian Novel”
Speaker: Johanna O'Leary
The works of Charles Dickens are sprinkled with scenes of convivial intoxication that promote alcohol as a welcome social lubricant and a liquid facilitator of good fun. However, the author also highlighted the darker side of drinking by showcasing the many dimensions of alcohol use (and abuse) in the development of his villains and less-admirable characters. See how Dickens intertwines booze and bad behavior in works such as Oliver Twist, Our Mutual Friend, and David Copperfield.
"From Royal Menagerie to Royal Mistress: Rienzi's Porcelain Sculpture in Context"
Speaker: Candace Clements
Museumgoers tend to associate the term sculpture with monumental works in heavy, permanent materials such as marble or bronze. Yet 18th-century Europe saw the proliferation of smaller sculptural works in the fashionable (and expensive) material of porcelain. These works harmonized with interior decoration of the time, and are often considered only under that heading. Consider a few isolated porcelain sculptures in the Rienzi Collection—a Meissen swan, a Sèvres portrait of Madame du Barry, and others—and explore how they fit into a much broader picture of artistic innovation and exchange favored by this novel, and royally privileged, medium.
Rienzi and Bayou Bend Book Club
Enjoy great conversations about good books! The two MFAH house museums host a history-book discussion series about life in America and Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. The book club meets alternately at Rienzi and Bayou Bend, with free discussions on a regular basis. Admission is free.
Music at Rienzi
Rienzi partners with Early Music Southwest (EMSW) and Houston Grand Opera Studio (HGO Studio) to host a series of magnificent recitals reverent of 18th-century art and culture. Amidst the gorgeous surroundings of Rienzi's fine art gallery and ballroom, music patrons enjoy a vibrantly aesthetic acoustic experience. A docent-guided walkthrough tour and reception with wine and light hors d'oeuvres are included with admission.
Baroque Music Sundays
Early Music Southwest is an international collaboration of baroque-music professionals who specialize in the performance of chamber music of the 17th and 18th centuries on original instruments. EMSW was established in 2000 by noted harpsichordist Christina Edelen, former faculty member at Baylor and the University of Houston; and orchestral cellist Frederick Edelen, member of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. The Edelens organize this delightful Sunday series for Rienzi. Admission is $22 for MFAH members, $25 for nonmembers. Tickets include a reception after the performance. The house opens for tours 45 minutes before each recital.
2014–2015 EMSW Performance Schedule
(more details and tickets at mfah.org/calendar)
• Sunday, October 5, 3 p.m. "Have Sackbut, Will Travel . . ."
• Sunday, February 15, 3 p.m. "Songs of Love and Romance"
• Sunday, May 3, 3 p.m. "Return of the Romantic Cello"
Houston Grand Opera Studio
Audiences are invited to experience the exceptional talents of up-and-coming artists from Houston Grand Opera Studio. Developed thematically, each performance features a repertoire of works by renowned composers and surprise talents, selected for your enjoyment by HGO Studio members. Admission is $40. Tickets include valet parking and a wine reception. The house opens for tours 45 minutes before each recital. Season passes are available from Houston Grand Opera.
2014–2015 HGO Studio Performance Schedule
(more details and tickets at mfah.org/calendar)
• Saturday, December 6, 7:30 p.m. & Sunday, December 7, 5 p.m.
• Friday & Saturday, March 13 & 14, 7:30 p.m.
• Thursday, May 7, 7:30 p.m. & Sunday, May 10, 5 p.m.
The Houston Grand Opera Studio Series is underwritten by a generous grant from the Alkek and Williams Foundation.
Special Topic Tours
Discover Rienzi's porcelain splendors. This tour introduces you to the inspiring development of "white gold" in Europe during the 18th century. Explore the monarchs and vibrant commercial markets that fed the rise of the extraordinary porcelain creations at Meissen, Sèvres, and Worcester. Fueled by rivalry and scientific innovation, these masterpieces reveal the increasing standards of patrons, the diverse function of wares, and the exquisite skill of Europe's modelers, painters, and gilders. Check mfah.org/calendar for dates and times.
Wednesdays, May 20 & 21, 2015
Programs for Children & Families
Free Family Day
Sunday, November 16, 2014, 1–5 p.m.
Sunday, April 19, 2015, 1-5 p.m.
Families are invited to enjoy various performances and participate in art workshops, gallery games, and a garden scavenger hunt on the grounds of the mansion. This is a joint event with Bayou Bend, and free transportation between the two museums is provided. Admission is free. Light refreshments are served.
Summer Storytime Tours
Wednesdays at 10 a.m.
June 4, 11, 18, 25 | July 2, 9, 16, 23 | 2014
Introduce children to the magic of art and literature in an intimate, house-museum setting. Storytime Tours are a fun and interactive activity featuring stories related to themes highlighted in the Rienzi Collection. Admission is free. Reservations are suggested, but drop-ins are welcome. Call 713.639.7800 for more information. Recommended ages: 3+
Summer Family Art Workshops
Families come together to create art, write stories and poems, and watch performances inspired by the Rienzi Collection. Admission is free, but space is limited, and spots fill quickly! Call 713.639.7800 to make your reservation. Recommended ages: 4+.
Sketching in the Galleries
On Wednesday afternoons, artists of all ages are welcome to draw from 18th- and 19th-century decorative-arts objects in the Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical styles during Rienzi’s open sketching hours, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The galleries hold treasures for every artist: space and light, interior design, historical narrative, decorative motifs, reflective surfaces, intriguing shapes, and form inspired by function. Check mfah.org/calendar for occasional cancellations. Included with Rienzi admission.
Sunday Garden Photography
On Sunday afternoons visitors are encouraged to visit Rienzi's gardens and capture their oasis-in-the-city beauty from behind the lens! Snap photos of the colorful flowers, lush green spaces, interesting architectural details, and eclectic statues. Share your photos with us by using #rienzigardens.
Admission is free. Call 713.639.7800. No professional photography or tripods please. Check mfah.org/calendar for occasional cancellations.
Breakfast Yoga Club Houston
Sunday, October 5, 2014, 9 a.m.
Celebrate fall in Rienzi’s gardens with yoga! The Breakfast Yoga Club unites the community through monthly free yoga events at different locations in the city, inviting a variety of teachers to lead fun, engaging yoga practices with live music. Yogis are encouraged to bring their mats, build friendships, and enjoy the energy of the outdoors. Yogiños Houston also offers a practice for youth during this event.
Following class in the gardens, guests are invited to stay for refreshments and a tour of Rienzi's house and gardens. Admission is free and open to the public, no reservations necessary! Rain date: October 12.
Rienzi has been a featured stop on the River Oaks Garden Club’s Azalea Trail since 1999. The house and 4.4 acres of beautiful gardens are open to all ages.
The 2015 Azalea Trail takes place March 6, 7, and 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For tickets and information, visit riveroaksgardenclub.org or call 713.523.2483.