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.


Lectures & Discussions

Rienzi's 15th Anniversary Symposium
Keynote Lecture

“The Big World of Comfort” presented by Joan DeJean
Friday, September 19, 2014, 5 p.m.
 
Key inventions in domains that encompassed plumbing as well as furniture were made in late-17th-century Paris. They ranged from novel kinds of seat furniture such as the sofa, to new upholstery techniques, to a revolutionary sartorial style adopted by men and women alike: the dressing gown. These inventions were first noted at the French court and in the grandest Parisian residences. However, inventories of Parisian merchants from the turn of the 18th century indicate just how quickly the ideas for a new sense of comfort caught on through French society.
 
 
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.
 
Salon at Sunset
Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
“Drinking with Dickens' Demons: Constructing Evil through Ethanol in the Victorian Novel”
 
Rienzi opens its doors at sunset! Treat yourself to a short, engaging lecture followed by a group discussion and reception. Admission is $20 per person and $18 for MFAH members, wine-and-bites reception included.

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


Annual Punch Party


Friday, October 17, 2014, 7–9 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 are welcome! Admission is $25 for MFAH members and $30 for nonmembers.


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 $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 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 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

Twilight Tours

Wednesdays, May 20 & 21, 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.

 
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 mfah.org/calendar for dates and times.
 
Holiday Home Tours
Wednesdays, December 10 & 17, 2014
6–8 p.m.
 
Enjoy the spirit of the season by touring Rienzi while it is beautifully decorated to celebrate the holidays. Docents will guide visitors through the house, highlighting the Masterson family Christmas ornaments. Guests will enjoy live seasonal music and a reception of holiday goodies including wine and eggnog. Admission is $22 for MFAH members and $25 for nonmembers. Reservations: 713.639.7800.

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 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+.

Sunday, June 8, 2014, 2–4 p.m. | SOLD OUT
"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). 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.| SOLD OUT
"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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014, 2–4 p.m. | SOLD OUT
"I Scream for Ice Cream"
Join the fun as Rienzi celebrates National Ice Cream Month! Learn about the interesting history of ice cream, and create your own delicious works of art. Then cool off at the ice cream social.

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.


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.


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 riveroaksgardenclub.org or call 713.523.2483.