Welcome to Rienzi, the MFAH house museum for European decorative arts. Rienzi is situated on four acres of wooded gardens, about three miles from downtown Houston in the historic River Oaks neighborhood. Formerly the home of philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, Rienzi was designed by prominent Houston architect John Staub in 1952. Opened to the public in 1999, Rienzi houses a substantial collection of European decorative arts, including paintings, furnishings, porcelain, and extensive holdings of miniatures. Visitors are invited to enjoy a variety of tours, family programs, lectures, concerts, and special events.
Tours and Admissions
Rienzi is open for tours Wednesday–Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Reservations are recommended, drop-ins are welcome.
On Sunday, Rienzi offers drop-in tours of the house from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., with the last entry at 4 p.m.
Admission Wednesday–Sunday is $8 adults; $4 MFAH Members; $5 senior adults, youth (13–18), and students with ID. Children 12 and younger are admitted free.
Rienzi's gardens are open for self-guided visits Monday–Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission to the gardens is free.
With advance notice, tours can be given in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, and German.
Group tours of Rienzi are intimate experiences in which visitors enjoy the hospitality of a Houston home and the glamour of 18th- and 19th-century Europe. Visit Rienzi in groups of 10 or more Wednesday–Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., or 3:30 p.m. Groups may select a themed tour from the topics below.
Welcome to Rienzi
Rienzi, the house museum for European decorative arts at the MFAH, showcases a substantial collection of paintings, furniture, porcelain, portrait miniatures, and more. On this one-hour introductory group tour, discover highlights of the collection and learn about the history of the home, former residence of Houston philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III.
Changing Currents in European Design
Rienzi’s collection of decorative arts and design objects provides a glimpse into the ever-changing world of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Discover how monarchies, explorers, and emerging globalization affected artistic styles as you explore themes of Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Regency. This one-hour group tour includes furniture, porcelain, sculpture, objets de vertu, and more.
Trace the development of European painting as you explore the Rienzi collection of European painting on this one-hour group tour. Discover masterpieces of 17th, 18th, and 19th century European painting, including landscapes, portraits and history, and meet members of the English Royal Academy such as Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, and Angelica Kauffman, as well as painters from Spain, France, Italy, and Germany.
Rienzi houses one of the most significant collections of European porcelain in the nation. Introduce your group to porcelain splendors at Rienzi and explore the development of "white gold" in Europe during the 18th century on this one-hour tour. Discover the monarchs and vibrant commercial markets that fed the rise of the extraordinary porcelain creations of Meissen, Sèvres, and Worcester, and learn about the diverse function of wares and the exquisite skill of Europe's modelers, painters, draftsmen, and gilders.
Choose to explore one of Rienzi’s semiannual exhibitions with your group.Click here for information on exhibitions at Rienzi.
Rienzi is located in River Oaks, on Kirby Drive between Lazy Lane and Shadder Way. There is a small sign on the lawn in front of the gates. Free parking is available inside the motorcourt. Click here for a detailed map and directions to Rienzi.
Tips for Visiting
- Drop-in visits are welcome, but reservations are recommended (except Sundays). The touring schedule may fill up during group tours or peak visiting months. Calling ahead helps ensure your preferred tour time will be available.
- Rienzi asks that all personal items be stored in lockers during your tour. Please arrive 10 minutes early so that you can store your belongings and start the tour on time.
- If anyone in your group needs special accommodations, please notify the tour coordinator when making your reservation. A wheelchair is available for use upon request.
- Guests are welcome to visit Rienzi's gardens before and after the tour.
- Non-professional photography and videotaping are allowed outdoors only. Professional photography is not permitted. Smoking is prohibited on all museum grounds.
- Rienzi is closed during the month of August.
European Decorative Arts and Paintings
Katherine S. Howe, Edgar Peters Bowron,
Christine Gervais, Cindi Strauss, Stephen Fox,
Suzanne Turner, Marjorie E. Wieseman
This beautiful publication is the first to document Rienzi, its collection, and the collectors. Featuring contributions from seven experts in their fields, the book presents an illustrated biography of the Mastersons and their roles in Houston and as collectors, followed by essays on Rienzi's architectural history and gardens. Entries about highlights of the collection will be of interest to the general reader and as well as scholars and collectors. Click here to purchase.
Antiquity Revived: Neoclassical Art in the Eighteenth Century
Guillaume Faroult, Christophe Leribault, Guilhem Scherf, et al.
Learn more about the exhibition Antiquity Revived: Neoclassical Art in the Eighteenth Century, organized by the MFAH in association with the Musée du Louvre, Paris. Featuring 150 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and works of decorative art—including objects from Rienzi's collection—Antiquity Revived explores, from various points of view, how the renewal of classical taste found its roots in ancient sources. This exhibition catalogue is available only through the MFAH Shop. Click here to purchase.