The Rothko Chapel functions as chapel, a museum and a forum. It is a place where religion, art and architecture intermingle.
The Rothko Chapel has become a pilgrimage stop for thousands of visitors who are drawn by its importance both as an artistic masterpiece and as an ecumenical gathering place for people of all religious beliefs. Students, art lovers, and scholars from all over the world visit the Chapel for research and inspiration.
The Rothko Chapel was the last and one of the most important endeavors that Dominique and John de Menil worked on together. This modern work of religious art commissioned for Houston is comparable in importance to the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence by Henri Matisse or the Chapel in Ronchamp by Le Corbusier in France.
Mark Rothko, one of the most influential American artists of the mid-century was commissioned by the de Menils and given the opportunity to shape and control a total environment to encompass a group of fourteen paintings he especially created for this meditative space. He worked closely with the original architect Philip Johnson on the plans, then with Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubry who completed the building.
The Rothko Chapel is a sanctuary for all and respectful of the integrity of each religion or denomination. It serves the community by providing a temporary place for major religious holy days and celebrations for communities who have not yet established a place of their own. Those who are not affiliated with any particular religious institution, find the Chapel appropriate for memorial services for their loved ones or for wedding ceremonies. The Chapel is the preferred setting for interfaith vigils and services. It has become a spiritual landmark, central in the lives of many members of this large urban community.
- On Travel + Leisure's list of 101 Places Every Traveler Should Know (2012).
- Named one of the 10 most mind-blowing, energizing, unorthodox and flat-out cool places to experience art in America by GQ (2010).
- Listed by Yahoo! Travel as one of the top 10 U.S. places to see before you die (2008).
- On National Geographic's list of the world's "most sacred places."
- The only ecumenical center of its kind in the world.