Rienzi is the MFAH house museum for European decorative arts. Originally the home of arts patrons Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, Rienzi comprises a remarkable art collection, house, and gardens. For more than 40 years, the Mastersons collected European decorative arts, paintings, furnishings, and porcelain made from the 17th to mid-19th centuries. Learn more about visiting Rienzi.
Designed by prominent Houston architect John Staub in 1952, the Rienzi residence was used and enjoyed by the owners, their children, grandchildren, and friends until 1997, when Rienzi was given to the MFAH.
Rienzi’s gardens, designed in the 1950s by noted landscape architect Ralph Ellis Gunn, are an accomplished combination of formal gardens and natural Texas woodlands. Comprising more than four acres in the River Oaks neighborhood, the property is nestled on two sides by steep ravines leading to Buffalo Bayou. The variation in elevation has resulted in a range of native plant communities, from floodplain species to upland forest trees, including beech and Southern magnolia.
- Grand Designs: Neoclassical Taste in the 18th Century September 17, 2016–February 20, 2017
- Decorative Arts in the Age of Victoria March 11–July 30, 2017
For information about past MFAH exhibitions, search the exhibitions archive database.
- Rienzi: European Decorative Arts and Paintings
The Rienzi Society benefits the Museum’s collection of European decorative arts. Members receive special invitations to lectures and are invited to participate in selecting pieces for the collection to be purchased with funds raised at the annual Rienzi Society Dinner. This event allows members to preview the items available for acquisition, and to enjoy a spectacular formal dinner in Rienzi’s ballroom.
Contact us about joining the Rienzi Society
Visitors enjoy a variety of programs and gallery activities for all ages, including tours, lectures, family art workshops, parties, concerts, and other special events. Learn more about Rienzi's programs.
The MFAH Collections
To explore all of the Museum’s works of art, search the collection.