A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

The Menil Collection

I know that I have written about museums a bit too much in these opening posts of family activities in Houston, but I have a reason for adding one more before moving on. My son is going through the Vanguard program in the school system here, and my sister-in-law wishes that my niece follows in his footsteps. When she went to the school for the application process, she asked the coordinator about how a child should be prepared for entry to such a program. The response came back that taking children to museums is a good step. Now, I have a passion for art and art history, so I drag my children along on my endeavors to view pieces. When they are little, they become enthralled with your interests. When older, they may balk some at going to an art  exhibition, but I see that they enjoy it, once we are there. My son got a kick out of the imploded house on Montrose. But back to the Menil Collection.

As a teenager, I became fascinated by DaDa, which lead (of course) to surrealism. The imagery of this art form causes you to stop and think. There are many great movements in art history, and this time period in art may not have produced some of the greatest masterpieces, but I have discovered that it is wonderful to come back to them to stare into their depths. When Dominique de Menil opened her collection to the public, it was an unprecedented treat for us in Houston. What I have enjoyed most is the connections that the pieces are shown to have with earlier work, and with folk art pieces from areas of the world that are not so heavily represented. My son and I wander through the chambers discussing what we see. I allow him to express his fantasies about the objects that he views. I will do the same with my daughter as she grows older. I do not try to overly direct his musings, but I give him some background  at times. When he was five, he had no fear going up to an artist to ask about their pieces, and he was happy to let them know his thoughts.

Visit the Menil, and make your own connections between artworks and family. The Menil family has certainly been generous to let us have this look for free.


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