MFAH Mission and Communities
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, serves as a welcoming and inclusive place for all people, connecting the communities of Houston with diverse histories of art spanning 5,000 years and six continents. Through our permanent collections, special exhibitions, learning and interpretation programs, studio instruction, publications, conservation, and scholarly research, we strive to inspire appreciation and understanding of the broadest spectrum of human achievement.
Houston has been hailed as America’s most diverse city, a reflection of how the nation will look in just a few decades. By its nature, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, along with the Glassell School of Art and the two house museums—Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, and Rienzi—embodies the character of this city through the Museum’s staff, visitors, mission, programs, and collections.
Harris County Demographics*
32% White, Non-Hispanic
MFAH Visitor Demographics
48% White, Non-Hispanic
MFAH Staff Demographics**
More than 600 full-time employees
*Source: Kinder Houston Area Survey, 2015
**As of January 1, 2022
Free Admission Opportunities
Although the MFAH depends on admissions revenue to support its operations, the Museum provides a number of opportunities for visitors to experience the collections, exhibitions, and programs at no charge. Nearly 40 percent of visitors to the MFAH and both house museums are admitted for free.
- The Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza; PNC Roof Garden; and Cullen Sculpture Garden are always free to visit.
- Children 12 and younger are always admitted to the MFAH and Rienzi for free, and children 9 and younger may visit Bayou Bend for free.
- During the week, most school tours are free, providing access for 40,000 children each year.
- On Thursdays, admission to the MFAH Permanent Collections is free for all individuals, courtesy of Shell USA, Inc.
- Lone Star Card participants receive free admission for up to six people when they present their card and ID at the Museum’s main campus, Bayou Bend, and Rienzi.
- On weekends, guests 18 and younger can show their library card from any public library in Texas and receive free general admission to the Museum.
- Each year, scholarship programs allow some 380 students to attend classes at the Glassell School of Art for free, and 40 students to attend the Summer History Camp at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens.
- Annually, thousands of visitors enjoy Family Days at Bayou Bend and Rienzi for free.
The Museum offers programs that serve students of all ages, such as:
- The Art Resource Tour for Schools Program provides docent-guided tours and self-guided visits for approximately 40,000 students each year, 23,500 of which attend schools receiving Title I funding. The program serves more than 30 districts in Harris and surrounding counties. Docent-guided tours create a welcoming learning environment for students of all ages. All docent-guided tours and self-guided visits for students are offered free of charge in the Museum’s permanent collections and many of the special exhibitions.
- Eye on Houston: High School Documentary Photography is an annual exhibition that documents and celebrates Houston’s diverse neighborhoods through an ongoing collaboration between the MFAH and Houston Independent School District high schools, of which 96% qualify for Title 1 funding and support. Using photography as a tool, student photographers document daily life in their respective communities and around Houston.
- Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program provides specialized training in the curatorial field for students from diverse backgrounds to support the goal of promoting inclusive, pluralistic museums. The fellowship program seeks to make a critical impact on American art museums by developing gifted curators who are committed to engaging with the full spectrum of museum audiences.
With nearly 100 partners citywide, the MFAH continues to seek collaborations across Houston. On any given day or evening at the Museum, students from the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music may perform in the galleries; guests of all ages participate in wellness programs; and families from Houston Neighborhood Centers come to tour the galleries and make art. Programs for those with limited vision and with Alzheimer’s happen monthly, and Glassell School of Art teachers regularly head out to classrooms across the city for Glassell-on-the-Go.
Collections and Community Support
The art collections of the MFAH reveal the breadth, variations, and commonalities of human expression and history. The Museum’s collections of Asian, Latin American, and Latino art, and of art from the Islamic worlds, were built over the past two decades, largely through the patronage of these Houston communities. The film program also reflects Houston’s many identities, with annual festivals drawn from the French, Iranian, Italian, Jewish, Latin American, LGBTQ, Palestinian, and Turkish communities.