The founding director of Rienzi, Katherine S. Howe will retire at the end of June. A Houston native and noted specialist in European and American decorative arts, Ms.Howe has been director of Rienzi, the Museum’s center for European decorative arts, since 1993, and first joined the staff of the MFAH in 1975.
During her tenure at the Museum, Ms. Howe developed the Museum’s decorative-arts collections, both at the MFAH and at Rienzi, and curated or co-curated exhibitions on a range of material, much of it newly examined, in such presentations as The Masterson Collection of Worcester Porcelain (1985); Marks of Achievement: Four Centuries of American Presentation Silver (1987); Imperial Austria: Treasures or Art, Arms, and Armor from the State of Styria (1992); Herter Brothers: Furniture and Interiors for a Gilded Age (1994); and Fit for a King: English Silver from the Collection of George S. Heyer, Jr. (2007).
“Over 41 years at the MFAH, with nearly 20 of them at the helm of Rienzi, Kath Howe’s dedication and discernment have had a lasting impact on the Museum, its collections and its programs,” commented Tinterow. “All of us at the MFAH are grateful for her stewardship, in particular, of Rienzi, and of the Brown Foundation Fellows Program at the Dora Maar house in Ménerbes, France, each of which are unique facets of the Museum’s commitment to research and scholarship.”
“When I first joined the MFAH, it was an ambitious regional museum with great aspirations and great leaders,” commented Ms. Howe. “With those champions of the time, including Caroline Wiess Law, Isabel Wilson, Alfred Glassell, Carroll and Harris Masterson, and the Museum’s directors Peter Marzio and Gary Tinterow, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has joined the international stage. It was, and is, exciting. I was fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. I can't wait to see what the Museum's next chapter will be.”
“I have had the privilege of having many chapters of my career in a single, renowned institution,” Ms. Howe commented. “The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has been an incredibly fulfilling place to spend my professional life.”
Rienzi, the MFAH house museum for European decorative arts, is the former home of Houston philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III. Opened to the public in 1999, Rienzi houses a substantial collection of European decorative arts, paintings, furnishings and porcelain, and an extensive holding of portrait miniatures. Rienzi welcomes some 20,000 visitors each year for tours, family programs, lectures, concerts and a variety of special events.