Making Modern at the MFAH

This series of short films captures the making of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, which opened to the public on November 21, 2020. Meet the community of artists, artisans, and architects who have all been part of the project. #GetModernMFAH

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From Berlin to Bilbao to New York and back to Houston, see some behind-the-scenes moments from the making of the Kinder Building. #GetModernMFAH


Construction in 30 Seconds

This time-lapse video tracks the construction of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building in 30 seconds. See the design by Steven Holl Architects, and the landscape plan by Deborah Nevins & Associates, come to life. Beneath the MFAH campus, one parking garage and two pedestrian tunnels were also constructed.

The translucent Kinder Building, dedicated to works from the Museum’s international collections of modern and contemporary art, stands in complementary contrast to the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed Caroline Wiess Law Building (1958/1974) and the stone facade of Rafael Moneo’s Audrey Jones Beck Building (2000). With two floors of galleries and a three-level atrium, the Kinder Building opened on November 21, 2020. #GetModernMFAH


New York Architect Meets Texas “Big Sky”

The clouds of the Texas “big sky” inspired renowned architect Steven Holl to design the complex, distinctive roof of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building as a “luminous canopy.” We interviewed Holl at his studio in Rhinebeck, New York, in August 2020, to hear more about that inspiration and his favorite material: light. Here at the MFAH, Holl’s watercolors, sketches, and models were showcased in the exhibition Making Architecture, a survey of his recent work on view at the Glassell School of Art. #GetModernMFAH


Ai Weiwei: Child’s-Eye Dragon

Artist Ai Weiwei has tapped into ancient Chinese tradition and childhood memories of kite dragons to create a unique, monumental piece for Houston. His new work Dragon Reflection is constructed of silk, bamboo, and reflective discs—all suspended from the ceiling of the Glassell School of Art’s education court. This interview was filmed in the artist’s Berlin studio in the fall of 2019, when Dragon Reflection was still in progress. #GetModernMFAH


Safety Chief Is a Mom

Meet the Houston mom of four who kept a team of hundreds of craft workers safe and on their toes over the three years that it took to build the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building. “I see my dad in them … it’s somebody else’s dad ... and so for me, it’s even more personal. We need to make sure we take care of them.” #GetModernMFAH

Texas Welders Forge an Architect’s Vision from a Sketch

The clouds of the “big Texas sky” inspired architect Steven Holl to sketch the roof for the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building as a “luminous canopy.” It was up to the engineers and welders on the site in Houston to figure out how to construct that roof, and the building that supports it. Watch as one of the team leaders describes what took place over the course of more than a year and why he says a welder is an artist, just like a painter. #GetModernMFAH

Perfecting the Glass

More than 1,000 glass tubes make up the facade of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building—an exterior that has never before been attempted. Specifically designed to accommodate Houston’s heat and sometimes volatile weather conditions, these fragile glass structures called for innovative assembly. Hear from the engineers about the ″gravity bending” that went into designing the Kinder Building. #GetModernMFAH

Local Photographers Make Art at the MFAH

“Art is life. One must draw upon his personal experiences.” —photographer Earlie Hudnall, Jr.

Connect with photography from around the world and across the medium’s history in the galleries of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building. #GetModernMFAH

The Secret Life of Trees

During construction of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, preserving the historic live oak trees was a priority. As artist Cristina Iglesias planned her outdoor commission Inner Landscape (the lithosphere, the roots, the water), located near the Main Street doors, she immediately responded to these magnificent trees, drawing inspiration from their canopy, the root systems, and the water that nourishes them. #GetModernMFAH

Wind Your Way through an Immersive Light Installation

“This is not a tunnel. This is an illuminated bridge.” —artist Ólafur Elíasson

Discover Ólafur Elíasson’s immersive light installation Sometimes an underground movement is an illuminated bridge as you wind your way through the tunnel leading to the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building. #GetModernMFAH

Weaving Layers of Connection

“These trees are overlapping one another, which becomes the metaphor for the sense of connection.” —artist Trenton Doyle Hancock

Themes of greenery and growth abound throughout the Museum’s fine-dining restaurant, Le Jardinier at MFAH. French for “the gardener,” Le Jardinier pairs perfectly with Color Flash for Chat and Chew, Paris Texas in Seventy-Two by Houston’s Trenton Doyle Hancock. Learn more about this commissioned tapestry from the artist. #GetModernMFAH

Elements of Creating a Landscape

“Art activates our senses.” —artist Cristina Iglesias

The elements of nature come together as illusion meets reality in the outdoor commission Inner Landscape (the lithosphere, the roots, the water). #GetModernMFAH

The Gardens at Kinder

“The story is really about social interaction and community, in open free space.” —landscape designer Deborah Nevins

The 14-acre landscape design by Deborah Nevins and Associates Inc. unifies a century’s worth of signature architecture, breathing new life into the Museum campus and establishing the MFAH as a landmark Houston destination. #GetModernMFAH

The Art of Jean Tinguely Comes Alive

Jean Tinguely’s midcentury sculptures engage and delight, bringing motion and sound to the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building. #GetModernMFAH

“Making Modern” has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.