The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Downtown 81

Sunday, Mar. 1, 2020 – Sunday, Mar. 1, 2020

05:00 PM – 06:30 PM


Restored 35mm Print

March 1: Post-film conversation between Michael Zilkha (executive producer of “Downtown 81” and co-chair of the MFAH film subcommittee) and artist Joseph Havel, director of the Glassell School of Art

In 1981, writer Glenn O’Brien, Swiss photographer Edo Bertoglio, and on-the-rise graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat hit the streets of lower Manhattan to make a movie about its bohemian milieu. Unreleased until 2000 and newly restored in a sparkling 35mm print, the film endures as a fascinating time capsule. Basquiat plays a struggling artist hustling for someplace to sleep. Featuring performances by legendary No Wave bands DNA, James White and the Blacks, the Plastics, and appearances by Deborah Harry, John Lurie, and Fab Five Freddy.

• “A joyous artifact ... a time machine, allowing young nostalgists to temporarily inhabit a moment that continues to inspire twenty-something culture vultures today.” —Hollywood Reporter

• “A genuine time capsule that shouldn't be missed.” —Hammer to Nail

• “Undeniably seductive, an aurally dense, fanciful travelogue.” —4Columns

• “An extraordinary real-life snapshot of hip, arty, clubland Manhattan in the post-punk era.” —Variety

• “A who’s who of the CBGB set before CBGB got turned into a sweatshirt slogan.” —New York Observer

• “The quintessential art film of the 1980s. You couldn’t make something like this today.” —Garage

• Learn about the history of the film.

• Read an interview with the filmmaker.

• Read about the restoration of the film here and here.

► Plan ahead for your visit with parking information.


  • Tuesday - Wednesday, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Thursday, 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
    Friday - Saturday, 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
    Sunday, 12:15 pm - 7:00 pm
    Monday: Closed (Except Monday Holidays). Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
  • General Admission

    • MFAH Members FREE
    • Adults $15
    • Seniors (65+ with ID) $10
    • Military (with ID) $10
    • College Students (19+ with ID) $7.50
    • Youth (13–18) $7.50
    • Children (12 & younger) FREE
    • Certain special exhibitions are ticketed, with an additional charge.
    On Thursday, general admission is free for everyone.

Directions & Parking

  • Free Parking
  • Paid Parking
  • Street Parking
  • Make visiting a snap! Visit mfah.org/parking for complete parking info, including a map you can download.

    Two Parking Garages        

    Parking Garage Hours

    Open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

    Parking Garage Fees

    • Parking payments may be made only with major credit cards, or with MasterCard and Visa debit cards.
    • The first 30 minutes are always free. On Thursday, parking is free for visitors who enter the Museum between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.
    • For hourly rates, go to mfah.org/parking
    Recommendation for guests with limited mobility: Use the covered drop-off lane at the Main Street entrance to the Beck Building, or use wheelchair-accessible parking in the garage at 1144 Binz Street.

Special Offers / Dining

Paolo Fronza, from Fellini Caffè, runs this sophisticated dining operation. Enjoy an array of Italian-inspired fare with a Texas flair, a European-style coffee bar, a kids menu, and much more at the MFA Café, located on the lower level of the Beck Building.

Events at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

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