Records of the Museum's Founding Organization

The earliest records in the MFAH Archives belong to the Houston Art League, the Museum’s founding organization. Dating from 1900, when the league first began to meet, the materials document efforts to introduce art education into the public schools and to establish a public art collection. Later records reflect the shift in the league’s mission as it focused on the construction of the Museum’s first building, designed by William Ward Watkin. The interaction of the league’s predominantly female members with women's civic organizations in Houston is also chronicled.

The records comprise a scrapbook, a volume of bound minutes, a visitor register, a membership roll, and the subject files of various Houston Art League presidents. Early exhibition catalogues are mounted within the scrapbook and the visitor register. Other highlights include documents of historic and legal importance, such as the league’s first charter, constitution, and bylaws; minutes from the first meeting; newspaper clippings about the opening of the MFAH in 1924; and the text of the opening address delivered by writer Homer Saint-Gaudens.

The Houston Art League scrapbooks listed here are available for download in PDF format.

Scrapbook, Part I, Section A

Scrapbook, Part I, Section B

Scrapbook, Part II, Section A

Scrapbook, Part II, Section B

To cite the scrapbooks, follow this example: 
Scrapbook, 19001924, RG19 Houston Art League Records, digital image, /downloads/5423bf12-c8a8-4628-ab21-81cb1c4e4cd7/view/, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Archives,, accessed April 1, 2010.

Every effort has been made to remove copyrighted material. However, if you have a claim to copyright in the presented materials, please contact

The fragility of the documents requires that researchers on site use a digital facsimile provided courtesy of Engraphix Imaging Systems, Inc.

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