Happy birthday to one of the best things about Houston.
The Menil Collection is a serene gem in the heart of this boisterous city. To see its quiet presence on green lawns and surrounded by large trees, you might not suspect the pale gray clapboard building is also an international icon.
Once inside, however, you begin to glimpse the reason for that reputation, and, if you spend awhile in its galleries, you understand.
Its offerings are the highest-quality works from many centuries and cultures that enchant, intrigue, challenge and puzzle.
"The Menil has emerged as one of the premier museums in the United States," says Glenn Lowery, director of New York's Museum of Modern Art. "The collection is superb and the setting is spectacular. The combination of a rarified environment with the ability to concentrate on certain artists creates optimal viewing for the art."
The renowned museum, considered one of the best private institutions in the world, celebrates its 20th anniversary on Thursday. Typically, it will be a sedate affair with art at its heart.
The birthday centerpiece is A Modern Patronage: De Menil Gifts to American and European Museums. The exhibit is about fine art and about the spirit that collected it, then gave it away.