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The Short Version: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is the perfect location for couples looking for an elevated and elegant date in the heart of Houston. Permanent art collections and temporary exhibitions are complemented by delicious dining and drinks served within the beautiful architecture of the many buildings that make up MFAH.
When selecting a location for a date, whether it be the first date or an outing for an established couple, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Grabbing a bite at a restaurant and seeing a movie is a reliable plan for a date, but for Houston couples looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston can provide.
Housing a wide variety of exhibits, collections, and gallery spaces, Texas’s oldest art museum has something for every couple. Viewing and reflecting on pieces of art is a wonderful way for couples to connect, learn about one another, and create lasting memories in their city.
Melanie Fahey, the senior spokesperson for MFAH, touts the museum as an invaluable experience for couples, saying, “The museum is a great way to connect with another person because it is a shared experience that starts a conversation. By the time you leave, you can have a good idea about who your date is and what is important to them.”
MFAH’s vast stockpile of permanent collections is complemented by exhibits that cycle frequently, giving couples diverse encounters throughout the museum and the opportunity to return and see something new. Melanie mentioned the distinctive character of each of the museum’s buildings, from cozy and traditional to airy and modern. MFAH’s collections feature art pieces from an array of time periods, forms, and artists, and span from the art of the ancient world to contemporary pieces.
MFAH’s permanent collections include nearly 70,000 pieces housed in several galleries and buildings, and organized by period and place of origin. These collections provide the backdrop for rotating exhibitions and ensure that couples can find the museum experience they are searching for.
In the Audrey Jones Beck Building, American and European collections before the 20th century are situated in a cozy museum setting, featuring pieces from antiquity to the Renaissance to 19th-century American art.
For couples who want to view modern and contemporary art, the airy galleries of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building are the perfect spot. Newly constructed in 2020, this building features international collections of modern and contemporary art. Couples exploring the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building will find photography, prints, drawings, and a collection of Latin American and Latino art.
The Caroline Wiess Law Building displays extensive collections of Asian, African, Islamic, Native American, Pacific Islands and Australian, and Pre-Columbian art. Describing the Law Building, Melanie said, “These galleries can transport couples to another place and time.”
Outside of permanent collections, MFAH features several diverse exhibitions every year for couples seeking a new experience in Houston. Melanie described a few of the exhibitions planned at MFAH this summer, but encouraged prospective museum-goers to visit the website to see the full list of current exhibitions.
This summer’s immersive exhibition is titled “Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish” and will run through September 4, 2023. Part of MFAH’s continuing series of large-scale immersive exhibitions, “Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish” combines two of the museum’s collections from Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist.
Housed in the central gallery of Cullinan Hall, “Pixel Forest,” an installation of 3,000 suspended LED lights, is masterfully paired with “Worry Will Vanish,” a video projection with a soundtrack. This immersive exhibition explores themes of nature, the human body, and the heavens. The color and intensity of the lights are constantly changing to mimic a forest, while the video footage and accompanying soundtrack work together to create an awe-inspiring ambiance.
Among the colorful lights and ethereal music, couples can discover an other-worldly experience in this exhibition. Rist’s exploration of what it means to be human, which Melanie called “dreamlike and unforgettable,” will inspire conversations between couples that otherwise might go unspoken.
“Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Pearlman Foundation” will be on exhibition in the Caroline Weiss Law Building beginning May 21 and continuing through Sept. 17, 2023. This exhibition is made up of pieces collected by the late New York-based collector Henry Pearlman and explores the relationships between notable artists of the 19th century impressionist and post-impressionist movement in Paris. It provides a wonderful opportunity for couples to view the works of this period’s most notable artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cezanne.
Later in the summer, from June 10 to September 4, 2023, “Woven Wonders: Indian Textiles from the Parpia Collection” will be on exhibition in the Audrey Jones Beck Building. The exhibit features one of the most significant collections of Indian textiles outside of India and is part of MFAH’s continued dedication to representing the cultural heritage of Houston’s South Asian community. This collection highlights the diversity and intricacy of Indian textiles in their form and creation, including textiles from the 14th century into the 20th. The collection is noted for its extensive nature and rarity, making it the perfect date for couples in search of a unique opportunity to view art of the likes they’ve never seen before.
According to Melanie, one of the best parts of going on a date at the Museum of Fine Arts is the assortment of activities for couples to partake in. Drop-in tours offer couples a guided visit through different collections and take place daily during the museum’s regular operating hours. MFAH’s website calendar is always updated with the times and locations of these tours and are perfect for couples who want a more in-depth experience at the museum.
MFAH’s onsite dining options elevate a museum date, offering couples plenty of food and drink options. Cafe Leonelli serves traditional Italian cuisine in a relaxed and friendly environment. Couples can begin or end their date with a visit to the cafe to enjoy a deliciously crafted menu of coffee, breakfast, hot food, and desserts. Cafe Leonelli’s selection of wine, beer, and non-alcoholic drinks ensures something enjoyable for everyone. Couples who want a more formal dining experience can find it at Le Jardinier, MFAH’s premiere dining experience. Situated on the first floor of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, Le Jardinier is a modern restaurant with a vegetable-forward seasonal menu and paired drinks taking inspiration from both nature and the art within MFAH.
Couples can elevate a movie date night by watching a film in one of the museum’s two movie theaters. MFAH screens multiple films every week from a diversity of filmmakers. Details about each film are easily accessible on the museum website, so couples can decide what sparks their interest and plan accordingly. Film screenings are generally scheduled later in the evening, giving couples looking for a nighttime excursion the opportunity to be at the museum outside of gallery hours. Melanie suggests couples explore the museum, grab a bite to eat, and then head to a film viewing to cap off a romantic evening.
Houston-area couples in search of an entertaining and elegant date that also encourages deeper connection should look no further than the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. A date at MFAH allows couples to learn about each other and the world around them through the museum’s rich cultural and historical art encounters. Pieces of art serve as wonderful conversation starters and can help couples grow closer as they see each other in a new and profound way.
“The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is a great date destination because there is truly something for everyone here,” said Melanie. “Visitors can see great art, share a meal or stop for a coffee or glass of wine in our restaurant or café, see a film in either of our two movie theaters, and enjoy lectures and music presentations. It’s easy to find an activity that will make a memorable outing.”