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Rothko Chapel, Houston

3.4
#3 of 7 in Historic Sites in Houston
Religious Site Art Museum
The Rothko Chapel is a non-denominational chapel in Houston, Texas, founded by John and Dominique de Menil. The interior serves not only as a chapel, but also as a major work of modern art. On its walls are fourteen black but color hued paintings by Mark Rothko. The shape of the building, an octagon inscribed in a Greek cross, and the design of the chapel was largely influenced by the artist.Susan J. Barnes states "The Rothko Chapel...became the world's first broadly ecumenical center, a holy place open to all religions and belonging to none. It became a center for international cultural, religious, and philosophical exchanges, for colloquia and performances. And it became a place of private prayer for individuals of all faiths"On September 16, 2000, the Rothko Chapel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.HistoryIn 1964 Rothko was commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil to create a meditative space filled with his paintings. The works are site-specific, one of the requirements of the program. As Rothko was given creative license on the design of the structure, he clashed with the project's original architect, Philip Johnson over the plans for the chapel. The plans went through several revisions and architects. Rothko continued to work first with Howard Barnstone and then with Eugene Aubry, but ultimately he did not live to see the chapel's completion in 1971. After a long struggle with depression, Rothko committed suicide in his New York studio on February 25, 1970.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
323 reviews
Google
4.3
TripAdvisor
  • Lovely place to visit, and spend some time meditating there if you're so inclined. Very peaceful, and the grounds are nice.  more »
  • Stark and minimalist but peaceful. Worth noting if coming by train from downtown to alight at Walker rather than (as we did) Museum District. Based on our experience may not resonate with teens.  more »
  • This construction is certainly special and the inside also but this, in my humble opinion is not worth the detour. Fortunately located Menil Museum next door goes beautifully level! If you're in the vicinity, why not but otherwise, choose something else...
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  • First was introduced to the Rothko and this chapel back in high school in 1988, we used to love going down there and introducing new friends to it to act like we were all hip and in the know. Been back many times since, and seen many Rothko works since, and it's still to me a deeply spiritual and sometimes dark place. Well worth visiting.
  • An interesting concept with a goal of achieving mindfulness that doesn't discriminate anyone's belief or teachings. They exhibited books from various faith meaning it is a no judgement zone. The works of Rothko surround the interior of the space. Will come again for some peaceful and spiritual quiet time.
  • Probably one of the most peaceful and tranquil places in Houston. The art is amazing. I love going there in evening when I have things on my mind I need to clear. I highly recommend it.
  • This place is fantastic and I have heard great things about it by many of my friends. I'll say this, if you know very little about this place, give it a look. I think you'll be a fan
  • I had a bit of fun this morning having read many pages of these reviews. I grew up in Houston and have been to Rothko throughout my life. Like the minority of negative commenters, when I was a kid, I didn't get it. However, I knew there was much more to it. I met the Dalai Lama outside on one visit in the 90's. Returning back, with my wife, I have found that when you watch quietly, there is much more in the paintings than a very dark purple color. When you are quiet and contemplative enough, you'll begin to pick out very subtle shadings, and shapes, and images. It's phenomenal, and it makes me want to return because I learn more each time. It's an experience you have to be internally still to notice. Study the paintings. They're not just black canvas. They appear somewhat differently at different times of day as the light from the ceiling hole changes. It is a spectacular place for meditation and for listening to yourself. Hopefully you like what you hear, or if not, that you are stirred to notice something within that needs attention.

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Where to stay in Houston

If you come to Houston to splurge while on holiday, book a luxurious room at a downtown hotel. This area is an ideal base for getting to know Houston, offering you a chance to stay within walking distance of one of the country's largest theater districts. Houston bills itself as the "Energy Capital of the World," so it's no surprise that it houses many "green" hotels, their garages designed to cater to electric vehicle owners. For something completely different, enjoy a Texas country experience at a working ranch outside the city limits.
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