We meticulously test and assess everything we review. Learn more about why you can trust us.

Navigating the Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Navigating the Museum of Fine Arts Houston

At the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, you’ll discover a treasure trove of art from different countries and cultures calling your name. 

Whether you’re an art aficionado or just looking for a dose of inspiration, a 

journey into this Houston location will nurture your creativity and leave you with memories as vivid as the canvases themselves. 

From jaw-dropping masterpieces to artful adventures, this guide will steer you through the captivating halls, the gems that reside in the museum. Let’s embark on an artful escape inside the Museum of Fine Arts Houston! 

Background and History of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston or MFAH is the 12th largest art museum in the world. It’s located in the Museum District in Houston and houses pieces that span across 6,000 years of human history and 6 continents. 

Now the oldest art museum in Texas, the MFAH’s origins trace back to 1917, when the Houston Public School Art League dedicated the site for a future public art museum. The original museum building, which opened in 1924, was Texas’ first art museum.

The museum’s rich collection blossomed with the contributions of art enthusiasts. From George M. Dickson’s oil paintings to Ima Hogg’s avant-garde European prints, these donations formed the cornerstone of its collection. 

The 40s and 50s saw substantial contributions like the Southwest Native American and Frederic Remington collections, as well as statues and paintings from the Renaissance, contemporary art, and even Oceanic, African, and Pre-Columbian art. 

The MFAH’s growth surged, with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pieces given on long-term loan by Audrey Beck, but stayed as permanent features up until present day in the building that was named after her. 

The Brown Foundation also spearheaded a 20-year long grant for the museums’ operational expenses which was a big contributor in its expansion and maintenance. 

This momentum carried into the 21st century, as the museum founded the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) in 2001, championing Latin American and Latino art.

Today, the MFAH occupies over 300,000 square feet that houses 70,000 art pieces and serves as a cultural epicenter, hosting an array of art that bridges gaps and ignites conversations. 

Address: 1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-639-7300



  • Monday to Tuesday – Closed 
  • Wednesday – 11 am to 5 pm 
  • Thursday – 11 am to 9 pm 
  • Friday to Saturday – 11 am to 6 pm 
  • Sunday – 12:30 pm to 6 pm 

Things to Know Before Your Visit to the MFAH 

You can buy a ticket to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston at any of the admission desks at the museum or through their website .

General Admissions Ticket Pricing: 

  • Adults: $19 
  • Senior Citizen: $16 
  • College Students: $12 
  • Teenagers (12 to 18 years old): $12 
  • Kids Below 12: Free

The MFAH also offers free admissions for: 

  • Kids ages 18 and older with a Texas Public Library Card 
  • Holders of a Lone Star Card 
  • College student with an art degree
  • Active member of the United States military and reserves
Pro Tip: 
A general admission ticket grants you access to the MFAH art collection in the main campus and surrounding gardens and school, but not for the 2 other house museum wings which are both off-site. 

You can buy separate tickets for the Rienzi Wing ($10) and the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens ($12.50) on their own websites or at the locations themselves. 

Finding parking during your visit to the Museum of Fine Arts is made easy with 3 easy access and on-site garages:

  • 1144 Binz St, Houston, TX 77004, United States 
  • 5500 Main St, Houston, TX 77004, United States 
  • 5101 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006, United States 

Parking Fees: 

  • 30 minutes and below: $10 
  • Half an hour to 4 hours: $18 
  • 4 to 12 hours: $18 
  • 12 to 24 hours: $35

Best Time to Go to the MFAH

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston offers free entry on Thursdays, so if you want to visit for free, consider dropping by then. Plus, the museum is less crowded on weekdays without the rush of students and people who don’t have work or school on weekends. 

How to Get to the MFAH

By Car

To get to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, you just need to take US-59 and exit onto Main Street. Once you turn left onto Bissonnet Street, the museum will be on the right. 

By Lightrail

Take the METRORail Red Line to the Smith Lands Station which is a 9 minute walk from the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.  

By Bus

THe 298, 5, 56, and 65 bus lines can take you to the MFAH with the 298 taking you to the closest stop at the Main Street and Binz Street intersection, which is just a 1 minute walk to the museum. 

By Bicycle

The bike route is similar to getting to the museum by car. You can park your bicycle at the Brown Foundation Plaza or at the 1144 Binz Street parking garage on the first floor towards the left of the entrance. 

Things to Remember When Visiting the MFAH 

  • Everything you bring should be smaller than 11 x 6 x 15 inches 
  • You can’t bring food or drinks into the galleries. 
  • Using phones and cameras to take personal photos are allowed, but no professional photography and equipment can be used inside the premises. 
  • Download their app for videos, information, and audio guides! 

Notable Things to See and Do at the MFAH 

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston houses the majority of its collection in its main building, the Sarofim Campus which is made up of 3 separate buildings with each one housing art from different time periods and genres. 

The Audrey Jones Beck Building *

The building, designed by Rafael Moneo, makes use of natural lighting to illuminate the art housed inside by famous artists like Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Vincent Van Gogh. 

You can explore pictures, drawings, and prints from ancient and European art. There are also antiques from Egypt, porcelain from Asia, and authentic silver pieces from America. It houses an array of collections of American art. 

The Hirsch Library which plays host to an extensive collection of information on visual arts is also located in the Beck Building and is worth checking out for art researchers!

Caroline Wiess Law Building

The Caroline Wiess Law Building is the first and original building in the museum complex. 

It houses a large and very diverse collection from different parts of the world including Islamic, Pre-Columbian, and Native American art. Some of the prominent pieces include Indonesian artifacts made of pure gold and rare sub-Saharan African artworks. 

The Caroline Wiess Law Building is also where you can find exhibitions by The Kinder Foundation Education Center Gallery. These exhibits put art made by students on display and is a great spot to bring the kids for art that’s more relatable to them! 

Nancy and Rich Kinder Building

For those more interested in modern and contemporary art, the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building should be your first stop. 

The building’s design features modern and industrial elements like glass tubes that adorn the exterior and a canopy roof that lights up during midday with natural sunlight. The structure of the high ceilings and grand staircases add to the allure of the building. 

Although the Kinder Building houses classic pieces from timeless artists like Pablo Picasso, the building mainly showcases modern art from photos, arts and crafts, decorative pieces, and prints. 

Don’t miss out on the light installations on the second floor by Spencer Finch and the explosion of neon colors at the Chromosaturation display by Carlos Cruz-Diez for great pictures. 

Pro Tip: 
You can pre-plan your route through the main campus by accessing layout on their digital map.

Here, the 20th- and 21st-century sculptures come alive under the open sky. There are masterpieces by esteemed artists like Henri Matisse,  Auguste Rodin, Louise Bourgeois, Pietro Consagra, Joan Miró, and David Smith. 

Sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s vision transformed this garden into a modern garden. Natural elements like bamboos, crepe myrtles, and other native trees pose in sharp contrast with the concrete walls that block off the area.

The Glassell School of Art offers studio-art courses and art-history instruction, and art workshops for adults and kids. You can learn how to paint, draw, sculpt here or engage in more modern art forms like 3D design or digital print and photography. 

The 3 story building features a roof garden and 7 other ones you can visit and relax in. The stairway to the roof is lined with plants for a unique climb up. The exterior features alternate concrete and glass panels cut out in angular shapes. 

In the heart of the city, the Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, spanning an acre, serves as a literal breath of fresh air as a public greenspace. The plaza also features an architectural fountain that adds to the serene ambience.

Two sculptures, Cloud Column by Anish Kapoor who also designed the Cloud Gate in Chicago and Song of Strength by Eduardo Chillida which is a 42-ton concrete structure, stand as the main artistic focal points of the garden. 

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston has two theaters, Brown Auditorium Theater in the Law Building and the Lynn Wyatt Theater in the Kinder Building. 

Depending on the showing schedules, these two on site theaters show films that range from classics, hidden gems, and new releases from different countries and cultures. 

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens 

The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is set in the former home of art enthusiast and philanthropist Ima Hogg spanning over 14 acres of well-maintained gardens in River Oaks. *

The collection that you can find here features American decorative arts and paintings. 

The collection of American furnishings, silver, ceramics, and paintings is one of the best and most extensive in the world. 

Don’t miss the chance to step inside the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center for guided tours of the entire location. Also, visit the Kitty King Powell Library which houses over 9,000 volumes of books and documents on American culture and art!


The Rienzi serves as the European decorative arts house museum of the MFAH,   designed by renowned architect John Staub. Once the home of philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, Rienzi holds stories of a bygone era. 

As you wander through the opulent rooms, adorned with exquisite furnishings, porcelain, and miniatures, you can’t help but appreciate the care that went into preserving this cultural gem. 

The Museum of Fine Arts is home Cafe Leonelli located at the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building 

Cafe Leonelli is a traditional Italian restaurant that serves breakfast pastries along with salads, but our favorite thing to get here are the authentic focaccia, pastas, and sandwiches. Don’t miss out on trying their gelato and desserts too!

For a chance to connect with fellow art enthusiasts and the opportunity to hear and learn from the artists themselves, we recommend signing up for one of the museum’s many symposia, concerts, lectures, readings, and workshops. 

Stay on top of the schedule by checking out their calendar on the website. One of our favorites is the Conversations About Art which is a series run by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston that gives the floor to the artists for them to speak about their artworks. 

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston is home to a physical archive that dates back to a century. 

By setting an appointment with the Managing Archivist, you can schedule a visit and explore the manuscripts that chronicle the history of the museum and the progression of Houston’s art scene.

If you’re new to art or you’re interested in a deeper understanding of the pieces on display, the Museum of Fine Arts offers different tours that you can try! 

  • Gallery Tours – Museum staff and educators walk you through the galleries and share information about the culture, time period, and influence behind the art. 
  • Group Tours – The MFAH also offers guided group tours where members are given time to discuss and share their observations and opinions of the art.
  • Individual Tours – For those who like to explore museums alone, there are Audio Tours and Self-guided Tours that allow you to explore at your own pace. 

At the MFA Shop you can find a selection of books, accessories, clothes, toys, home decor, and stationery that’s all art-themed. 

They also have framed prints and poster versions of classic art pieces like Frederic Remington Aiding a Comrade. If you’re more into non-mainstream art, they also have special exhibition merchandise depending on the art installations currently displayed!

Where to Eat Near the MFAH 

Le Jardinier
Image Source: Le Jardinier Website 

Address: 5500 Main Street Suite 122, Houston, TX 77004, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-714-3015


Price: $$$

Tucked away in the heart of the Museum District, Le Jardinier specializes in modern French food made with high quality and fresh ingredients. The atmosphere at the restaurant is refined yet inviting, perfect for a poised and classy dinner date. 

There’s a wide selection of vegetable-centered dishes that are dependent on the ingredient’s seasonalities. They also offer meat and seafood which are all sustainably sourced as well as a curated selection of wines and beers that are organic and biodynamically grown. 

Monarch Restaurant and Terrace
Image Source: Hotel ZaZa Website 

Address: 5701 Main St, Houston, TX 77005, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-527-1800


Price: $$$

The refined New American cuisine served here makes for a memorable fine dining experience available from breakfast, lunch, until dinner. 

As you enjoy your meal on the terrace, the elegant ambiance adds an extra layer of sophistication to your dining experience, especially if you eat some of their volcanic salt garlic fries as a starter. 

For breakfast, their Bourbon Brioche French Toast is a perfect way to start the day and their slow-braised short ribs are the perfect main for dinner!

MF Sushi
Image Source: MF Sushi Website 

Address: 1401 Binz St #100, Houston, TX 77004, United States

Phone Number:  +1 713-637-4587


Price: $$$

MF Sushi is the place for modern Japanese cuisine. In fact, their primary ingredients are flown in directly from Japan! 

The menu features both classic takes on rolls and nigiri, but their more adventurous items like uni from Japan aren’t to be ignored. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, opt for the multi course omakase dinner, where the chefs serve only ingredients freshly stocked that day. Sitting at the omakase bar lets you interact with the chefs as they share insights into each dish. 

Address: 1801 Binz St #130, Houston, TX 77004, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-524-2235


Price: $$

This bright and contemporary spot is a haven for those who appreciate the vibrant tastes of the Mediterranean region. 

Their menu is crafted from authentic family recipes that have been passed down from the owner’s family and their dishes are created using the freshest ingredients. 

From their salad bar to classic dishes like kabobs, wraps, and pizzas, this is one of our go to spots when we’re craving something more flavorful! 

Fia's Pizzeria
Image Source: Fia’s Pizzeria Website 

Address: 1200 Binz St #130, Houston, TX 77004, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-333-8222


Price: $$

Fia’s Pizzeria’s unpretentious atmosphere welcomes you to enjoy their pizzas, wings, sandwiches, and more. All their pizzas are made to order, and we especially like their Cauliflower gluten Free Crust if you’re vegan!

If you’re in the mood for comfort food done right, their pasta and salads won’t disappoint. With each bite, you’ll taste the dedication to quality ingredients and simple yet satisfying flavors. 

Where to Stay Near the MFAH

Address: 2712 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77098, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-523-8448

Pricing: $$

Book Now

Located just between Downtown Houston and The Galleria, this hotel is perfect for making the most out of your trip to the area. You can explore the myriad of shops and dining options inside the Galleria. 

With the 2712 Bistro serving cocktails and classic Texas food like barbeque ribs and brisket, you won’t have to venture far for a good meal. Plus, the outdoor pool and fitness center will let you burn some of the calories from all those great dishes! 

Address: 2929 Westpark Dr, Houston, TX 77005, United States 

Phone Number: +1 713-661-5669

Pricing: $$

Book Now

We love the amenities at Courtyard by Marriott Houston especially the heated outdoor pool and cozy fire pit area. 

Their spacious rooms also provide a comfortable retreat after a day of museum exploration. The Bistro, their on-site restaurant, offers a delectable array of breakfast and dinner options like their vanilla nut oatmeal and breakfast burritos. 

Plus, the Bistro also offers lots of options for a night cap featuring red and white wines and both craft and local beers. 

Hotel ZaZa Museum District
Image Source: Hotel Website 

Address:  5701 Main St, Houston, TX 77005, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-526-1991

Pricing: $$$

Book Now

Hotel ZaZa is a boutique hotel that combines artful design with luxury and comfort. Here, you can enjoy a chic atmosphere while enjoying modern amenities like the pool complete with villas and the fully equipped gym. 

The rooms are beautifully decorated, with 7 special suites that follow different themes for a truly indulgent stay. The hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, Monarch, extends the luxury with offerings like their French onion soup and shrimp and slow-braised short ribs.  

The poolside menu is just as good with pizza options and our personal favorite, the seared ahi tuna tostadas with cucumber and lime pico! 

Address: 6840 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77030, United States

Phone Number: +1 346-433-8200

Pricing: $$

Book Now

The cozy suites here offer a comfortable living space, perfect for longer stays. Plus the fact that the hotel is pet-friendly means you can take your furry friends with you!

You can enjoy the convenience of their fully equipped kitchens and common area. If you don’t want to do cooking on your vacation, they also serve complimentary breakfast. 

With its close proximity to the Museum of Fine Arts and their free shuttle service, getting to and fro won’t be an issue. 

Address: 6633 Travis St, Houston, TX 77030, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-313-4000 

Pricing: $

Book Now

The Hilton Houston Plaza near the Medical Center in Houston has an outdoor pool area, complete with fire pits and a great view of the skyline. You can sip on a cocktail from Bar 9 that serves you drinks poolside. 

The hotel’s prime location provides easy access to the Museum of Fine Arts and also to nearby attractions like Rice University and the NRG Stadium. 

For a full sit down meal, they have on site restaurant, Herb N Kitchen, with an omelet station where you can customize the toppings and doneness of your eggs! 

Related topics