Lined with early-20th-century bungalows and shaded by live oak trees, the 30-acre campus is integral to the Menil aesthetic and experience. Tucked away in a residential enclave of a bustling city, the Menil’s buildings and green spaces are a source of civic energy and domestic tranquility. Residents as well as museum visitors from around the globe have likened the Menil neighborhood to an urban oasis.
The neighborhood of the Menil Collection is punctuated by major works of outdoor sculpture. Jim Love’s Jack, 1971, welcomes visitors as they enter from the Alabama Street parking lot and walk between the Menil Collection Bookstore and Bistro Menil. Works by Michael Heizer, Mark di Suvero, and others are scattered throughout. The outdoor expanse includes Menil Park, along Mulberry Street; McGovern Green, in front of the Cy Twombly Gallery; and across from the entrance to the Menil Drawing Institute. All are open to the public from dawn to dusk.
From the sturdiest oak tree in Menil Park hangs a bright red swing, though it is more than just that: created as an “urban intervention” by a University of Texas architecture student, it is one of many in the globe-spanning Red Swing Project.
The craftsman bungalows along Sul Ross and Branard Streets serve as museum offices as well as private residences; some house fellow arts organizations. Nearly all of them were painted the same shade of gray more than a decade before the building of the museum, lending a somewhat surreal quality to the streetscape.