Programs and Gallery Activities at Rienzi

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.

“Demon Rum” Dinner

Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 6:45 p.m.

Join bartender Bobby Heugel (Anvil Bar & Refuge) and chef Chris Shepherd (Underbelly) for a unique dinner event that pairs historic rum cocktails with a decadent four-course meal. Dinner, prepared by Shepherd—winner of a James Beard Foundation Award—features a menu inspired by the historical periods of rum. Heugel, a Forbes magazine “30 Under 30" for food and wine, crafts the cocktails. Explore the dangerous and delicious evolution of rum and its impact on European and U.S. social history. 

Doors open at 6:45 p.m. for tours of Rienzi, with cocktails at 7 p.m and dinner at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($175) include a four-course dinner with rum samples and cocktails. Complimentary valet parking. Space is limited, so reserve your seats early! For guests 21 and older only. Get Tickets

Programs for Children & Families

Free Family Day "A Parade of Books"
Sunday, April 19, 2015, 1 p.m.

Join Rienzi in celebration of classic children's literature. Early editions of Winnie the Pooh, Babar, and other rare books are on display in the exhibition Rienzi Library: Highlights from a House. Enjoy performances, art workshops, scavenger hunts, and more on the grounds of the estate. This joint Family Day with Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens includes complimentary transportation between the two house museums. Admission is free. Light refreshments are served.

2015 Storytime Tours
March 13, 18, 19,  20 | 10 a.m.
June 3, 10, 17, 24 | July 1, 8, 15, 22 | 10 a.m.
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. Families are welcome to bring picnic lunches to enjoy in the gardens after the tour. Admission is free. Reservations are suggested, but drop-ins are welcome. Call 713.639.7800 for more information. Recommended ages: 3+

Summer Fine Arts 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+.'

• A Family Story: Writers' Reflections
Sunday, June 14, 2015, 1 p.m.
Families read, write, and create during this playful and engaging afternoon. Led by instructors from the School Literacy & Culture program at Rice University, visitors learn the story of Rienzi's family and are encouraged to compose their own stories. Younger children dictate and dramatize their tales, while older students write poetry and prose.

• Fancy Nancy's Artsy Adventures
Sunday, July 12, 2015, 1 p.m.
Grab some glitter glue and create your own fancy paper dolls and accessories, inspired by the elegant portraits of 18th-century men and women in the Rienzi Collection. Following the art-making activity, families enjoy a mini-performance from Main Street Theater's production of Fancy Nancy. Children are welcome to dress in their fanciest attire!

• Rumpelstiltskin:  A Marionette Performance and Puppet-Making Workshop
Sunday, July 19, 2015, 1 p.m.
Families enjoy an afternoon of entertainment as the evil elf Rumpelstiltskin works his magic turning straw into gold. This classic fairytale from the Brothers Grimm's 1812 edition of Children's and Household Tales is told through beautifully crafted string puppets from the Texas Marionette Playhouse. A puppet-making workshop follows the show.

Special Topic Tours

Friday Focus Tours
Start the weekend at Rienzi! On the second and fourth Fridays of the month, join an in-depth discussion on an intriguing aspect of Rienzi's collection. Topics range from "What Makes a Great Cup of Tea?" and "Four Georges Make a Monarchy" to "The Lady of the House: Roles of 18th-Century Women." These small, personal tours are limited to 10 people. Reservations: 713.639.7800.
Rivals, Spies, and the Quest for White Gold: Rienzi's Porcelain Masterpieces
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 for dates and times.
Twilight Tours
Wednesdays, May 20 & 27, 2015
6–8 p.m. 
Relax and see Rienzi and its gardens at twilight. Enjoy light hors d'oeuvres, wine, and live music. Docents are stationed throughout the house to greet guests and to interpret the collection. Tickets available at the door and in advance at 713.639.7800. Admission is $12 for MFAH members and $15 for nonmembers.

Mother’s Day at Rienzi

Mothers Day Tours
Sunday, May 10, 1–3 p.m.
Enjoy an afternoon touring  Rienzi's collection and gardens. Moms enjoy complimentary admission and a fresh flower to take home.

Music for Mothers Day by Houston Grand Opera Studio
Sunday, May 10, 5 p.m.
Continuing its collaboration with Houston Grand Opera Studio artists, Rienzi presents recitals in the galleries. A reception of wine and sweets follows the performance. Admission is $40 per person, including valet parking. Tickets & Info

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.


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
• Saturday, December 6, 7:30 p.m. & Sunday, December 7, 5 p.m.: "1914: War and Remembrance"
• 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.

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.

Become a friend of Rienzi's Early Music Southwest recitals with Patron-level season tickets. Patrons Pass members help underwrite the series. Call 713.639.7800 for information.

20142015 EMSW Performance Schedule
(more details and tickets at
• 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"

Lectures & Discussions

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

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.

 More info & upcoming selections

Gallery Talks
One Thursday a month, Rienzi highlights a great work of art in the collection. Speakers include curators, conservators, educators, and librarians. Admission is free, reservations encouraged. Call 713.639.7800.
Thursday, February 19, 2015, 1 p.m.
Bergère, c. 1791
Presented by Christine Gervais, associate curator, decorative arts and Rienzi
Thursday, March 19, 2015, 1 p.m.
French Sulphide Glass, c. 1840
Presented by Marissa Hershon, curatorial assistant, decorative arts
Thursday, April 16, 2015, 1 p.m.
Portrait of Captain Edward Knowles, c. 1762
Presented by Kaylin Weber, assistant curator, American painting and sculpture
Thursday, May 21, 2015, 1 p.m.
Rienzi Library: Highlights from a House
Presented by Margaret Culbertson, Powell Library; Jon Evans, Hirsch Library

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 for occasional cancellations. Included with Rienzi admission.

Sunday Garden Photography

On Sunday afternoons, you're invited 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. Use #rienzigardens to share your pics on social media!

Admission is free. Call 713.639.7800. No professional photography or tripods, please. Check for more information and occasional cancellations.

Azalea Trail

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 or call 713.523.2483.