Looking at the contemporary exterior of this mansion, you’d never think the inside would be furnished with old world antiques. But when you walk inside, it is as if you were transported back in time to 17th and 18th century Europe. Rienzi is the European Decorative Arts branch of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Like Bayou Bend, it is a residence transformed into a museum.
Rienzi is also located in the Homewoods subdivision of the River Oaks section of Houston. It belonged to philanthropists Harris and Carroll Masterson and they donated their house and art collection to the MFAH. They commissioned architect John F. Staub, the same architect who built Bayou Bend, to build this mansion to house their art collection. The main part of the house was built in 1952. They had another architect add an addition with a ballroom in 1971, but it is so flawlessly done you cannot tell that it was built 20 years later. There is a lot of customization throughout. There are tons of glass-encased shelves to show off the figurines and fine china that Mrs. Masterson collected. There is a room that was designed for 4 pillars representing the 4 seasons from 1600’s Italy. One of the closet doors is a fancy carved door from 1600’s Moorish Spain.
We found the docents to be very knowledgeable about the art and furniture in the house. They told many great stories about the pieces- where they came from and what they were used for, and gave us many insights on how people lived in 17th and 18th century Europe.
Attention to detail is very evident in both the mansion and the art collection. The crown molding and pillars are embellished with floral designs and gold paint. There are oriental rugs throughout. The furniture is very ornate and detailed. Very fancy. I could spend all day admiring this stuff. It’s the kind of furniture you’re afraid to touch and rugs you don’t want to step on, let along sit down and make yourself comfortable. I wonder if the furniture was arranged this way when the Mastersons were living here. Maybe they only put some of the fancy stuff out when they were entertaining guests? I’m sure the MFAH probably moved some furniture around and added some pieces. But imagine having kids running around here, and grandkids. Or family gatherings. I love the artwork and furniture here and think the art in this museum is truly amazing, but I don’t think kids in general would have quite that same appreciation.
Rienzi is situated on about 4.4 acres, so the gardens are smaller than that of Bayou Bend. But just the same, they are neatly landscaped and very nice. Of course it was drizzling out the day I visited so I wasn’t able to walk around the gardens that much. And the flowers were not in season, so there was not much to see except for the irises. Though this is also a stop on the Azalea Trail in March, so I’d imagine it will be very pretty when the azaleas are in full bloom in March.
從外表來看，真想不到這間現代式的屋裏面全都是古董裝飾和家具。但當你走進去的時候，好像走進了17-18 世紀歐洲的豪宅。Rienzi 是休士頓美術館的歐洲裝飾藝術分支。它像Bayou Bend 一樣是豪宅改爲博物館。
Rienzi位于River Oaks 社區的Homewoods 小區。一對慈善夫婦Harris 和Carroll Masterson把自己的豪宅和藝術收藏品捐了給休士頓美術館。他們1952年買了這塊地叫John F. Staub (Bayou Bend 的設計師) 幫他們設計豪宅。1971 年又叫另外的設計師加了大舞廳和多幾間房。 這設計師做得天衣無縫，看不出來是隔了20年才建這新一部分。豪宅有很多地方是特別為Masterson 夫婦的藝術收藏而設的。例如，牆裏有玻璃封閉架子來放Masterson 夫人的精細瓷器和瓷俑。有一間房是為一套代表四季的古董意大利木柱而設。還有一個衣櫃的門是17 世紀西班牙摩爾族的門。門的木雕圖案很漂亮。
別墅裝修精美細緻。入牆架子的邊雕滿花式圖案，柱子塗上金色油漆點綴。地上鋪了東方地毯。家具很華麗，很名貴。好像只是可以看，不能摸， 更不敢坐哪種家具。但是以前Masterson 夫婦住在這裏，這都是他們的家私啊。他們都會坐都會用這些古董家具啊。難道他們不怕打破玻璃碗碟，或者把杯飲料倒在沙發上呢？他們都把古董家具保存那麽好，可能只是有客人才把古董拿出來？平時用沒有那麽名貴的家具？那他們兒孫來見他們又鎮麼樣啊？小孩子不會當心的。或者以前有一間小孩子可以玩的房間。也可能，MFAH 把豪宅改爲博物館，再把家具整理好。
Rienzi 有4.4 英畝花園， 比Bayou Bend小，但是也設計得很美麗和整齊。我們去參觀Rienzi 那天下微微的雨，所以在花園參觀了很小時間。而且，過了開花的季節，所以沒有太多花看。只是有鳶尾花。三月杜鵑開花的時候，相信花園充滿漂亮的顔色。
If you go/旅遊資料:
Address/地址:1406 Kirby Dr., Houston TX 77019
Parking/ 停車: free parking lot at museum/ 免費停車
Hours/開放時間: Wed-Fri 10-5, Sat 10-4, Sun 1-5
Admission/門票: $6 mansion tour/參觀別墅, gardens free/花園免費
Free Times/免費時間: free family day in April (usually 3rd Sunday) in conjunction with Bayou Bend, free trolley available to transport visitors from Bayou Bend to Rienzi and vice versa, best to park at Bayou Bend’s larger parking lot in this case. 四月第三個星期日 “Family Day” 和 Bayou Bend 都免費，有免費車從Bayou Bend 帶你到這裏。免費這一天停車在Bayou Bend 的大停車場比較好。
Website for most current info/網站– 最新資料: mfah.org/rienzi
Check out my Houston Museum Guide for reviews of more museums.