Don't miss the special exhibition of one-of-a-kind glass artwork at "Chihuly" Oct. 20-Feb. 10. Details below...
Like James Madison's home, Montpelier, the museum went through a very lengthy major renovation the last two years. Unlike Montpelier, which reduced its size by two-thirds, the art museum EXPANDED by more than a third.
BUT, one thing hasn't changed. It's still FREE, although donations are always welcome. (And the Virginia Historical Society next door is free too!)
|One of the museum's beautiful Faberge eggs.|
My favorite part was actually quite small. It was a special room dedicated to their collection of stunning Faberge eggs and other artifacts by Peter Carl Faberge (it was one of the largest permanent collections of Faberge eggs and artifacts outside Russia).
|This colorful sculpture is in the new foyer.|
The highlight for me was (and still is) four Imperial Easter eggs, which were created by Faberge specifically for the last Russian czar, Nicholas II, to give to his wife, Czarina Alexandra, at Easter.
All Imperial Easter eggs come on a stand and have a surprise: for example, the Red Cross Egg, so-called because it is white with a red cross to symbolize the international Red Cross, opens up to reveal miniature frames with portraits of the Czarina, two of his daughters, and other family members in nursing uniforms.
While the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' Egyptian and Asian collection isn't large, the new museum is so huge, they have a good collection of European and American oils and watercolors, as well as a modern art section that even I enjoy (so you know it must be good!).
Here are a few highlights (and tips):
|Don't miss this cool sand sculpture featuring ant tunnels!|
|A very striking sculpture from the modern art section.|
Off the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' marbled foyer, they have a nice gift shop, and a rather elegant little café featuring sandwiches, light entrees, espressos, and desserts. (They also have kids fare like grilled cheese and PBJ.) The Best Café is open 10 am-5 pm, and until 8 pm Thursdays and Fridays. If you want to bring your own lunch, you are welcome to eat it in the Best Café, or in the patios outside.
(For something different, try their vegetarian box, with hummus, pita bread, grape leaves, and salad. Or you can do like my kids and just have pizza. But save room for their desserts!)
For fine dining, the Amuse Restaurant is open daily 11:30 am-5 pm (open til 9 pm Thurs & Fri). I haven't tried it, but I looked at the menu and it looked very gourmet. It was also packed (on a Monday no less) with lots of people in business attire, so it seems to be the new "in" spot to dine.
|The luminous Pelican Egg.
As I mentioned, admission to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is free (okay, a suggested donation), which makes it a perfect spot for a family vacation getaway.
Visiting exhibitions, which have included paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec, exhibits of Tiffany and Picasso, and Faberge eggs, and selections from the private collection of Queen Elizabeth II, range from $8-$15 per adult.
Oct. 20-Feb. 10: "Chihuly Exhibition"
See truly distinctive and cutting-edge glass art by internationally-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.
I can't tell you how the exhibit is since it hasn't opened. But I do have photos of their last exhibit on "Faberge" including items like the rare Napoleonic Egg and the Nobel Ice Egg.
|The rare Napoleonic Egg.
Admission for the "Chihuly" exhibit isn't yet posted on their website, but if it's like past special exhibits, it may run $15 for adults, and $12 for seniors, students with ID, groups of 10 or more, and youth ages 7–17 (kids 6 and under are free).
Parking for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is $3 per day in the VMFA Parking Deck. You may be able to find free parking in the Virginia Historical Society lot next door (I always do!).
Location: 2800 Grove Avenue, 804-367-0844. Hours: Open 365 days a year - Sat–Wed: 10 am–5 pm; Thur/Fri: 10 am–9 pm.
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