History of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts


The Houston Museum of Fine Arts is considered to be one of the most prominent museums in the United States. It is located in the Houston Museum District, and it has a permanent collection from over 6,000 years of history. The museum gives back to the Houston community by hosting several publications, programs, and media presentations. Every year, about 1.25 people benefit from their workshops, programs, and resource centers. In this article, we are going to talk about the history of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

Caroline Wiess Law Building


The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is considered to be the oldest art museum in the whole of Texas. In 1917, the museum site was donated by the Houston Public School Art League with the goal of making it a public art museum. In 1924, the first museum building was opened, and it represented the determination of Houston people to make their growing city into a rich cultural center in Texas. The museum’s staff and trustees dedicated the small art collection to the community, and from then on, the museum’s main goal is to bring “art into the everyday life” of all Houstonians.

Before the permanent museum building opened in 1924, George M. Dickson donated the museum’s first collection of important European and American oil paintings. During the 1930s, Annette Finnigan started to donate her antiquities. Ima Hogg, a Texas philanthropist, also gave her collection of avant-garde European drawings and prints to the museum. After that, Ima Hogg made subsequently donated her Frederic Remington and Southwest Native American collections as well. In 1944, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts experienced a bequest of eighty-three Renaissance sculptures, works on paper, and paintings from famous New York collectors Edith and Percy Straus. Over the next 20 years, the museum received gifts from well-known Houston families and foundations. These donations concentrated on contemporary painting and sculpture, European Art that was done from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries, and Oceanic, African and Pre-Columbian Art. Amplified by museum purchases, its permanent collection increased to 12,000 artifacts by 1970.

Watkin Building, 1924

From 1970 to 1989, The collection of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts’ collection nearly doubled, all thanks to the continued donations of Art and the beginning of both consent endowment funding and corporate giving. John and Audrey Jones Beck decided to place a long-term loan on over 50 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces in 1970. This move augmented the museum’s already strong Impressionist collection. As the years passed, this collection never left the MFAH, and in 1998, it formally entered the its museum’s holdings as a gift of Life Trustee Audrey Jones Beck. Today, the collection is permanently displayed in a building that is named after her.

In 1976, the Brown Foundation, Inc., started a challenge grant that would last for twenty years. It raised funds for both operational and accession costs in landmark amounts and provided incentive additional community support. That same year, the photography collection was started. Today, the museum it is considered as the sixth-largest in the country, and it encompasses two buildings: the Audrey Jones Beck and Caroline Wiess Law buildings. These buildings house the museum’s primary collections and temporary exhibitions; the Glassell studio art school; two decorative arts house museums; a sculpture garden; a facility for storage, conservation, and archives; and the administrative building with the Glassell Junior school of Art.

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