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The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to Join Association of Art Museum Directors' Celebration of International Museum Day

MFAH to Offer Free Admission 10 a.m.—5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, announced today that it will offer free admission on Tuesday, May 18, as part of the Association of Art Museum Directors’ (AAMD) celebration of International Museum Day. Participation by AAMD member museums will focus attention on the important roles that art museums serve in their communities, further showcase collections and exhibitions, and increase opportunities for audiences to engage with the many educational programs art museums offer.

“International Museum Day has been celebrated for over 30 years, and the MFAH is pleased to join museums in over 100 countries around the world in offering free admission and educational programs on May 18,” said Dr. Peter C. Marzio, MFAH director. “The 2010 theme, Museums for Social Harmony, celebrates cultural diversity, and MFAH guests are invited to visit the newly opened Light of the Sufis exhibition—the latest effort of the MFAH to bring the Arts of the Islamic World to Houston.”

In addition to free admission, guests are invited to participate in a number of activities planned at the MFAH around the 2010 International Museum Day theme, Museums for Social Harmony. MFAH visitors may enjoy the museum’s Discovery Cart—where an MFAH educator will be stationed to share activities and materials, creating an interactive and hands-on experience for families with children ages four and up—from 10 a.m. to noon in the Nidhika and Pershant Mehta Arts of India Gallery, the only space in Houston devoted to Indian arts and culture. Visitors can also join a Gallery Talk at noon, Highlights of the MFAH, which begins in the Law Building lobby. During this 45-minute talk, visitors can explore some of the best-known and most beloved works of art in the MFAH’s permanent collection.

The featured International Museum Day 2010 exhibition is Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam. Sufism is practiced in Syria and the Iranian world, as well as regions in Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Central Asia, China, India, and Southeast Asia; Sufis seek union with God through a path of enlightenment that includes prayer and meditation. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, Light of the Sufis will be shown in Houston in an expanded version, displaying some 50 contemporary and ancient artworks.

AAMD member museums—located across the United States, Canada, and Mexico—include smaller regional museums as well as large international institutions. International Museum Day is organized annually around the world by the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

“We believe that art museums are crucial to our understanding of world history and cultures, and provide a unique and irreplaceable public service,” said Michael Conforti,
president of AAMD and director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. “AAMD is committed to exploring new ways to underscore the value of the visual arts in civic society, and we are excited that the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is joining with us and the global community of museums to focus on this message of public service.”

A comprehensive list of participating AAMD member art museums will be available in the newsroom of the AAMD website (http://www.aamd.org/newsroom/). Note that while ICOM’s International Museum Day is formally held each year on May 18th, some institutions shift their celebrations to adjacent dates. More information about ICOM’s International Museum Day can be found here: http://icom.museum/imd.html

MFAH Collections

Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is the largest art museum in America south of Chicago, west of Washington, D.C., and east of Los Angeles. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers nearly 60,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present. Featured are the finest artistic examples of the major civilizations of Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa. Italian Renaissance paintings, French Impressionist works, photographs, American and European decorative arts, African and Pre-Columbian gold, American art, and European and American paintings and sculpture from post-1945 are particularly strong holdings. Recent additions to the collections include Rembrandt van Rijn’s Portrait of a Young Woman (1633), the Heiting Collection of Photography, a major suite of Gerhard Richter paintings, an array of important works by Jasper Johns, a rare, second-century Hellenistic bronze Head of Poseidon/Antigonos Doson, major canvases by 19th-century painters Gustave Courbet and J.M.W. Turner, distinguished work by the leading 20th- and 21st-century Latin American artists, and The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art.

MFAH Hours and Admission

Admission to the MFAH on Tuesday, May 18 is free; hours of operation are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission to Light of the Sufis and all programs is included with general admission to the msueum.

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