As of Sunday May 20, the much-anticipated Cloud Column (colloquially known as the Houston bean) and its accompanying one-acre Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza have opened to the public. The plaza is adjacent to the Cullen Sculpture Garden and opens into the Museum of Fine Arts’ new Glassell School of Art.
Cloud Column is a 32-foot tall, 27,000-pound reflective stainless steel sculpture made by artist Anish Kapoor, creator of the famous Chicago “bean” – officially known as Cloud Gate. Standing at the base of Cloud Column, viewers experience an elongated and distorted reflection that invites further inspection. Despite Chicagoan claims that Cloud Column is a “second-rate bean,” it was actually made before Cloud Gate for London’s British Museum. After the project fell through, the sculpture stayed in London until the Museum of Fine Arts acquired it three years ago.
According to the Museum of Fine Arts’ website, the Glassell School of Art will also feature a street-level coffee bar for students and the public and a sloping, walkable roof garden with an amphitheater for pop-up programming. In addition, the open space of the Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza offers space for future outdoor performances and programs.
The expansions are part of the 14-acre redevelopment plan for the Museum of Fine Arts. According to the Museum of Fine Arts’ website, future developments will include a 164,000-square-foot building for 20th- and 21st-century art, an art conservation center, two underground parking garages and two new tunnels to connect the additional buildings.
Architect Steven Holl told the Houston Chronicle that the expansion is a “great gift to the neighborhood,” adding that the new underground parking will “act as a bridge between Rice, Hermann Park and Midtown/Downtown.”
Students can walk one mile from campus to see the monumental structure, plaza and school on Montrose Boulevard. There is no entry fee.