The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Saturday, May. 23, 2015 – Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015

Shadow Monsters, an interactive installation by New York-based British artist Philip Worthington, invites Museum visitors to take part in a fully immersive art experience. Participants create their own shadow plays as their silhouettes are recast in fantastic forms.

Essentially a digital version of a traditional shadow-puppet theater, Shadow Monsters turns a childhood game of imagination into a reality. People's hands become mouths with razor-sharp teeth; tongues, eyes, and fins appear from every appendage; and birds and dinosaurs squawk throughout the Museum's vast Cullinan Hall—all thanks to vision-recognition software that augments visitors' gestures with sound and animation.

Describing his idea for the Shadow Monsters project, Worthington (born 1977) said, “Looking back to my own childhood, I remembered the feeling of casting huge shapes in the light of my father’s slide projector, creating monsters and silly animals. I enjoy working with simple, intuitive things; playful feelings that touch us on a very basic level.”

Shadow Monsters has received wide acclaim for its active engagement of audiences, forward-thinking design, and successful manipulation of digital software. The installation debuted in London in 2006, and since then it has been seen only in Moscow, New York, and Seattle. For the Houston presentation, Worthington worked with MFAH staff to take advantage of the theatrical stage of Cullinan Hall. As with Soto: The Houston Penetrable in 2014, the hall’s soaring architecture is transformed into a playful and welcoming environment.

Image: Philip Worthington, Shadow Monsters, 2004–present, Java, Processing, BlobDetection, SoNIA, and Physics software, reproduced courtesy of the artist.

About the Exhibition

Share your experience! Use #ShadowMonsters to post your photos and videos on social media.

Related Links

Learn more here.


  • 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.
  • Admission Entrance to this installation is included with your Museum admission. Museum members receive free general admission.

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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