From art museums to symphony halls, artistic locations are instant showstoppers for meetings and events.
Give your guests the rock-star experience at ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, while taking advantage of the music venue’s great acoustics and lighting set-up. Set your group center stage at the iconic Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, overlooking the 2,042-seat hall. Enjoy indoor and outdoor meeting spaces at the Dallas Museum of Art, including its on-site restaurant. Or treat your guests to dinner in one of the galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
As varied as their offerings, these artistic spaces boast a range of décor and atmospheres with event staff ready to help get your next meeting or event a great review.
BASS PERFORMANCE HALL, FORT WORTH
The Bass Performance Hall complex opened in downtown Fort Worth in 1998 as the city’s premier arts destination. The complex, built entirely with private funds, is the permanent hall for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Texas Ballet Theater, the Fort Worth Opera and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The hall also hosts a large children’s education program and traveling Broadway productions.
The complex, which comprises the MaddoxMuse Center and the Bass Performance Hall, is known for its architecture and incredible acoustics—Travel + Leisure named Bass Performance Hall one of the top 10 opera houses in the world in 2009. The 2,042-seat Bass Performance Hall features two 48-foottall angels on its Grand Façade and an 80-footdiameter Great Dome atop its Founders Concert Theater
Hosting an event on the hall’s stage gives it a special atmosphere, says Haven Zametz, events manager at Bass Performance Hall. “The beauty and the aesthetics of it give you a special feeling, being on the stage and looking out at the lights,” she says. “It’s a showstopper for corporate clients.”
The hall’s location is ideal in downtown Fort Worth, Zametz says, because it is close to hotels and Sundance Square. Parking is easy, with garages across the street.
The Bass Performance Hall complex offers six event spaces. The McDavid Studio, located across the street from Bass Performance Hall, features floor-to-ceiling windows for great views of downtown and can host up to 300 guests. The Van Cliburn Recital Hall in the Maddox-Muse complex is a versatile, all-purpose room with ample natural light that can accommodate up to 300 people. The Grand Lobby, with its marble floors, high ceiling and elegant staircases, is a fantastic place for a cocktail reception, Zametz adds.
The Mezzanine Lobby, which can accommodate up to 200 people, leads to a balcony where guests can overlook the city and the hall’s iconic twin angels. For smaller events of up to 100 people, planners can use the Green and Richardson Rooms, or seat up to 350 guests on the theater’s stage—in addition to 2,000 seats in the performance hall.
The venue’s white garden chairs are included in the Bass Performance Hall rental package. All alcohol must be provided through Bass Hall, and cooking is not allowed on-site. However, caterers can cook food to order on the venue’s loading dock and a list of preferred caterers can be provided.
ACL Live, also known as Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater, is a 2,750-person music venue that hosts 100 concerts a year. The music venue is located next to the W Austin Hotel & Residences within Block 21, the first mixed-occupancy building of its kind to be LEED certified.
The space is the permanent home for the taping of Austin City Limits, a PBS-produced series that is the longest-running music series in the country. Three months after landing Austin City Limits, people started reaching out for private buyouts, says Michaelyne Escobar Long, director of private events at ACL Live.
What sets the space apart is its versatility, Long says. “We call ourselves a big black box,” she says. “It’s the most blank canvas you can walk into. We love outside-of-the-box ideas, tapping into those creative juices to work with people and help bring their ideas to life.”
For instance, a recent pharmaceutical product launch hosted a general session of 500 people on the main concert floor before flipping the room into 12 separate breakout spaces over the lunch break. “To be able to do that so quickly with our staff and production team is our pride as a turnkey space,” Long says.
The venue also has a built-in solution for creating a more intimate space: a fixed curtain along the venue’s perimeter can be lowered to hide 1,100 balcony seats.
Smaller groups can use ACL Live’s smaller venue, 3TEN ACL Live, located at street level. This boutique venue can hold 350 people and offers an outdoor patio in addition to the 2,700-square-foot indoor space.
ACL Live is recognized as a Rock and Rock Hall of Fame Museum, and the venue plays off the rock ‘n’ roll vibe. Holding an event where legends have played creates events that “are exciting and intriguing to host,” Long says. Planners, for instance, can use the same dressing room as performers like Jay-Z and Elton John. “It’s a really cool, fun experience that a lot of other spaces don’t have,” she says.
For events, Austin City Limits offers stateof-the-art sound, lighting and staging, as well as talent buying and concessions. Planners can work with outside vendors for design and catering. The venue offers VIP packages for smaller groups to enjoy, like pre-receptions or happy hours bundled with concert tickets.
The Dallas Museum of Art houses 24,000 pieces of art spanning 5,000 years. Located in the design district in downtown Dallas, the museum is open to the public most days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with free admission (the museum is closed on Mondays).
In addition to the museum’s permanent collection, the museum’s first floor houses traveling exhibits. Art is also featured in two of the museum’s private event spaces: the Hamon Atrium and the Founders Room. These spaces are rented separately.
The Hamon Atrium features doors and windows framed by Dale Chihuly glass as well as other large artwork. The room’s high ceilings offer an expansive space that planners can customize. “Our corporate clients really like the open feel,” says Rachel BillingslyHernandez, sales manager of special events at the Dallas Museum of Art. “They can really customize the room. It’s a blank canvas.” The atrium can seat up to 450 people and accommodate 800 total.
The Founders Room, adjacent to the Rose Family Sculpture Terrace, can hold up to 180 people. After the museum closes, guests at private events can enjoy the museum’s conservation studio, located close by. The studio offers an intimate space for smaller gatherings to see conservation work in progress.
The museum offers multiple outdoor spaces. The first, Fleischner Courtyard, is accessible from the street. Groups who rent the Hamon Atrium also have access to this courtyard. And, the museum includes a Sculpture Garden that can hold 1,200 people.
Finally, the museum’s newly renovated front entrance features the Eagle Family Plaza, which can accommodate up to 385 people. The plaza is attached to the museum’s restaurant, Socca, which features a savory chickpea crêpe that is a specialty cuisine in southern France.
All catering for the museum is provided through Sodexo. The museum can offer menus as guidelines, though planners can work with the chefs to customize their theme and cuisine. The museum can also provide tables, chairs and linens for up to 300 people.
Planners should keep in mind that no food or beverage is allowed in the galleries, and no red wine is allowed in the concourse. Set-up time also needs to be precise. Though museum staff are experienced at setting up a room in an hour after the museum closes, the quick turnaround can be stressful for planners or vendors unfamiliar with the venue, Billingsly-Hernandez says. The museum offers a preferred vendors list, which lists vendors familiar with the museum’s policies and procedures.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston comprises multiple mansions and buildings, offering a variety of architectural spaces for planners to utilize. In addition to its Caroline Wiess Law Building and Audrey Jones Beck Building (which are connected), the museum includes two house museums located about 10 minutes away.
The first, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, sits on 14 acres and houses American paintings, furniture and decorative arts. The second, Rienzi, is the museum’s center for European furniture and decorative arts.
Hosting dinners at the Rienzi has become popular with the “who’s who” of Houston, says James Batt, assistant director of hospitality at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “It is spectacular,” he says. “It’s like going into an English country house for dinner but you’re in the middle of Houston.” The museum can accommodate up to 99 people for an indoor sit-down dinner at Rienzi, Batt says.
Planners will have even more options to choose from as the museum continues to grow, with additional space coming online next year. A new master plan for the museum campus will result in two new buildings, a new conservation center and two new parking garages. The buildings will include the 40,000-square-foot home for the Glassell School of Art, and the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, a 164,000-square-footbuilding for 20th- and 21st-century art.
When the Glassell School of Art building opens in May, “it will architecturally be the most interesting building in Houston,” Batt says, and will be joined in short order by the Kinder Building, which opens in early 2020. “It’s an amazing architectural masterpiece,” he says. “People will love to have events there.”
In its current spaces, the museum already hosts 500 events a year. The museum has been the site for events for the NFL Players Association during Super Bowl Week and the inaugural party for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
One particularly popular space is the museum’s Cullinan Hall, which offers 6,800 square feet of space. With its 30-foot ceiling, planners love to project different images onto the white walls, Batt says.
Groups can host a dinner for up to 150 people in one of the museum’s galleries or a cocktail reception for 1,000 people in either the Audrey Jones Beck or Caroline Wiess Law buildings.
The museum has a list of approved vendors who are familiar with the venue’s policies and restrictions. There are vendors for various budgets on the list, Batt says. Caterers can use the museum’s on-site kitchen or use a field kitchen. Red wine and red cocktails aren’t allowed in the museum. However, if a group is having dinner in one of the galleries, red wine The museum has a list of approved vendors who are familiar with the venue’s policies and restrictions. There are vendors for various budgets on the list, Batt says. Caterers can use the museum’s on-site kitchen or use a field kitchen. Red wine and red cocktails aren’t allowed in the museum. However, if a group is having dinner in one of the galleries, red wine