Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Hidden Layers: Painting and Process in Europe, 1500–1800

Saturday, May. 26, 2018 – Monday, Sep. 3, 2018


This exhibition celebrates the Museum’s new Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation, opening later this year. Hidden Layers: Painting and Process in Europe, 1500–1800 highlights recent technical findings for European paintings in the Blaffer and MFAH collections.

The imaging techniques of x-radiography and infrared reflectography have uncovered preparatory layers and underlying changes in the paintings. Now, the materials throughout the entire depth of a painting, or just below the visible surface, can be seen.

Sometimes major, spectacular transformations are revealed, with entirely different compositions underneath. Other examples show the brilliance of an artist’s underdrawing, or subtle alterations of line as the design is refined and developed. In all of them, details of the artists’ working methods—as well as clues to original and changing artistic intention—are made clearer by discovering what lies in the hidden layers.

Hidden Layers also features important Old Master prints from the Blaffer Collection that show wonderful interpretations of the artist at work in the studio. Some of the images are allegorical, and some are straightforwardly descriptive, but all are superb works of art in their own right.


  • Wednesday, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Thursday, 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
    Friday - Saturday, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Sunday , 12:30 pm - 6:00 pm
    • Monday (Except selected holidays) | Closed.
    • Tuesday | Closed.
    • Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day | Closed.
  • General Admissions

    • MFAH Members FREE
    • Adults $19
    • Seniors (65+ with ID) $16
    • Military (with ID) Free
    • College Students (19+ with ID) $12
    • Youth (13–18) $12
    • Children (12 & younger) FREE
    • Certain special exhibitions are ticketed, with an additional charge.
    *The Museum provides free admission to active members of the U.S. military and reserves with valid ID, as well as to military families with dependent cards. Available in person at any admissions desk.  General admission to the Museum is free on Thursdays, courtesy of Shell Oil Company.     Health & Safety Protocols: Before you arrive - The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is a private institution devoted to public service. We require health & safety protocols, which apply to the main campus, Rienzi, and Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Please visit https://www.mfah.org/visit/tips-for-visiting to review our campus protocols.

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.

    Three 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.
    • 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 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

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