New Menil Drawing Institute Building Will Be One of the Only Ones Dedicated to Modern Drawing

Some celebrate a quarter-century of existence with some boring cake. For its 25th anniversary, The Menil Collection is constructing a freaking building, one that will be a one-of-a-kind cathedral to visual art.

The Menil Drawing Institute (MDI) will be the first major project under the museum's long-term plan that includes the addition of more green space to the Menil campus. The MDI, according to the Menil, will be the first freestanding center in the United States devoted to modern and contemporary drawings.

Vance Muse of the Menil tells Art Attack that a site for the new digs hasn't been determined, but a selection should be made by the end of May. An architect -- the finalists are Tatiana Bilbao (Mexico City), David Chipperfield Architects (London), Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles) and SANAA (Tokyo) -- will be chosen in June.

"In this year, when we observe the 25th anniversary of our great museum building by Renzo Piano, we are pleased to begin realizing our vision for the future by selecting the next architect to design a major building for the Menil campus," says Menil Collection director Josef Helfenstein.

"By taking on the challenge of designing MDI -- the only facility of its kind -- the architect will create a home for our largest, fastest-growing but most delicate collection of artworks, while also providing an important new focal point for the entire campus."

The MDI program began in 2008 and its main function has been research and curating -- for example, "Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective," which is currently on display through June 10, as well as surveys of Claes Oldenburg and Tony Smith and the preparation of a multi-volume book cataloging the drawings of Jasper Johns.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen