Rienzi Programs and Events

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.

Programs for Children & Families

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 recommended, 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. Reservations open on May 1, 2014. Admission is free, but space is limited. Call 713.639.7800 for information. Recommended ages: 4+.

Sunday, June 8, 2014, 2–4 p.m.
"Magical Transformations: A Playful Writing Workshop"
Take part in a literary journey! Read, write, and create during this playful and engaging afternoon led by instructors from Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture (SLC) Project. The older children write fantasy narratives through story and poetry, and the younger ones dictate and dramatize their stories.

Sunday, June 22, 2014, 2–4 p.m.
"Animalia: A Children's Recital"
Bring out your inner animal with the interactive children’s recital Animalia, by Mercury – The Orchestra Redefined. Biber's Sonata Representativa takes you on an imaginative tour of a farm, with instruments portraying the sounds of barnyard animals. A reception and mask-making project follow.

Free Family Day
"Rienzi in Bloom" Sunday, March 16, 2014, 1–5 p.m.
Kids of all ages are invited for performances, tours, and art-making activities at the annual spring family day. Enjoy a tour of Rienzi's estate and blooming gardens, and take part in a garden scavenger hunt and a screen-printing workshop. Entertainment includes the soulful music of the Kelly Dean Duo and a colorful puppet show about the interesting lives of insects. Admission is free. Light refreshments are served.

Special Topic Tours

Twilight Tours

Wednesdays, May 21, and 28, 2014
6 p.m. to 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.

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 mfah.org/calendar for dates and times.

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.

Early Music Southwest

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 $25 for MFAH Members, $30 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.

2013–2014 EMSW Performance Schedule
(more details at mfah.org/calendar)
• Sunday, October 27, 3 p.m. "The Nut Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree"
• Sunday, December 1, 3 p.m. "Christmas at the Keyboard"
• Sunday, March 2, 3 p.m. "The Classical Cello"
• Sunday, April 27, 3 p.m. "Bach to the Future"

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. 

2013–2014 HGO Studio Performance Schedule
(more details at mfah.org/calendar)
• Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7, 7:30 p.m.
• Friday and Saturday, February 14 and 15, 7:30 p.m.
• Thursday and Saturday, May 1 and 3, 7:30 p.m.

The Houston Grand Opera Studio Series is underwritten by a generous grant from the Alkek and Williams Foundation.

Lectures & Discussions

Gallery Talks
Learn more about specially selected works of art in the Rienzi Collection, one Thursday a month at 1 p.m. Speakers include curators, conservators, educators, and librarians. Admission is free. Reservations encouraged. Call 713.639.7800.

• February 6, 2014 "Thomas Gainsborough's Wooded Landscape with a Woodcutter"
• March 20, 2014 "Paul Storr's Covered Vase"
• April 17, 2014 "Axminster Carpet Company's 'Turkey' Carpet"

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

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.

Annual Punch Party

Friday, October 25, 2013
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

At this jolly celebration, travel through time to the mid-1700s to explore historic English punch, a blend of spirits, citrus, sugar, and spices. Sample original 18th-century cocktail recipes as well as modern punches while socializing on the terrace. Pompadours welcome!

Outdoor Photography Day

Saturday, March 15, 2014
1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Grab your cameras and enjoy shooting photos in Rienzi's gardens while spring is in full bloom! To inspire your creative process: azaleas in a variety of colors; the romantic, newly restored Folly Garden; and beautiful works of sculpture. This event is for amateur photographers. No tripods, please.

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 2014 Azalea Trail takes place March 7, 8, and 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For tickets and information, visit riveroaksgardenclub.org or call 713.523.2483.