Don't steal it, but check out the free art!

June 8, 2011 at 1:08 a.m.

The first time I wandered into the Menil Collection, I had the overwhelming urge to smack myself in the head. Why, you ask? Well, the Menil Collection is in my home town of Houston. Anyway, the Menil Collection was founded by the Menil family, and houses more than 15,000 pieces of art amassed by the family over the years - they had oil money, and some people favor solid gold bathtubs as impulse purchases of choice, but they went with, you know, art.

I made my way into the museum and discovered, to my absolute horror, that it was free. Completely free. I could donate if I wanted to - this is where I repressed the urge to very immaturely snort - but I didn't have to pay. I resolved then and there to reform, to take advantage of those generous oil folks and soak up all the free art work like a sponge.

I was staring at a Jackson Pollock painting, or maybe it was a bit of some Egyptian antiquity, when I heard a security guard inform the rest of the room, in an authoritative voice, that the collection on display in the actual museum was less than an eighth of the entire collection.

They have everything from some sketches by Picasso to a series of the collected scriblings of serial killers. And because the collection is downright oceanic in its vastness, you can see it again and again, and always see something new.

As if that weren't enough, the Rothko Chapel presented itself at the end of the trip. Well, it was actually a big sign pointing toward the interfaith chapel commissioned by the Menils from American artist Mark Rothko in 1971.

Anyway, enough rhapsodizing. If you've never heard of it the Menil Collection is the best thing since sliced bread - it's big, it's free and, ooh did I mention it's free?



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