Art Museum Visit in Houston


If you are choosing this option for your report, you will be required to visit one of two art museums in Houston (The Museum of Fine Arts Houston or the Menil Collection with adjacent chapels) and to write about the overall experience and specifically about particular works of art that appeal to you, whether painting, sculpture, or photography, or in the case of the Menil, architecture.

The more specific requirements and guidelines for this assignment are found in the following pages (click on the arrows at the bottom to continue). To make a passing grade, you must meet the basic requirements (word length, number of art works described, etc.), so read the following pages carefully and ask me if you have any questions.


I expect an organized essay of at least 500 words, with care given to organization, sentence structure, language and grammar. I have given you specific guidelines for your writing, based on which of the two museums you visit. Follow these guidelines carefully.

Always write in your own words; i.e., do NOT copy from the Internet. That is a sure way to get a zero on the assignment AND an automatic F in the class.

NOTE: This is not a research paper, and if you turn in that kind of paper, you will get a failing grade. Therefore, do not attempt to recycle research papers from your Art History class or Art Appreciation class. It will be obvious to me what you have done, as I’m familiar with the assignments for those classes.

In fact, the only outside resources you are allowed to use for this assignment are notes that you find on the walls of the museum next to the art work you are examining. Those plaques on the wall will give you the information you need on the artist, date of the art work, medium (materials of which the artwork is made; for instance, oil on canvas, or watercolors on paper, etc.). The plaque may also give you some information and background related to the art piece. You may quote briefly from this information provided, but in order to avoid plagiarism you must put the quoted material in quotation marks and you need to put this after it: (museum plaque), so I’ll know the source.

The only resources I really expect you to use are the ones you were born with: your senses, your brain, and your emotions. Hopefully, your responses will be informed by what you have learned in this class.

Your two museum options are the following:

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston is this town’s major art museum. It has been central to the cultural life of this city for many years, and has a huge collection which is spread over two buildings and an outdoor sculpture garden. You will find art from every period and all parts of the world. But perhaps you’ve been to this museum over and over, or recently for another class. In that case, I’d suggest the second option for you.

The Menil Collection originated as a private collection donated by a family to the City of Houston, and reflects their particular preferences, so the range is not as great. Nevertheless, there is still variety, given that you can see Grecian vases from 2000 years ago as well as 20th century surrealistic art. For a small museum, it has a major international reputation, yet many Houstonians do not even know of its existence. (It is, by the way, listed in that recent bestseller, A Thousand Places to See Before You Die.) A bonus feature for the Menil Collection is the Rothko Chapel next door, which is part of the Menil complex.


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