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Virginia Museum of History & Culture embarks on multi-year, $30 million renovation plans

A new theater, cafe, green space, and interior and exterior renovations are planned as part of the major project, which was expedited because of the pandemic.

RVAHub Staff

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This October, the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) will begin a dramatic renovation and expansion project – the most extensive in its long history. Inspired by its vision to better represent and welcome all Virginians and advance its ability to thoughtfully and fully preserve and share the ever-evolving story of Virginia, the museum will invest nearly $30 million in campus and programmatic improvements. In nearly 18 months of construction, the VMHC will be fundamentally reimagined as a more welcoming, guest- and community-centered cultural attraction.

The renewed museum complex of nearly 250,000 square feet will include multiple new exhibitions spaces for long-term and changing exhibitions; a new immersive orientation theater; a new interactive learning space for families; a new research library with a state-of-the-art rare book and manuscript suite, and multiple new education/meeting rooms; a new café, museum store and other amenities; and multiple new and renewed community and event spaces, including a new great hall, a second-floor event terrace, an outdoor event lawn, an expanded parking lot, and an improved VMFA campus connector.

VMHC’s upcoming construction will be a capstone of various expansions and improvements at the museum over the past two decades. It is also a culmination of the VMHC’s focused efforts in recent years to become the state history museum Virginia needs and all Virginians deserve – work that has already resulted in record-setting growth in museum visitation and programmatic activity. Guided by the museum’s ambitious strategic plan, which also called for the museum’s successful rebranding in 2018 as the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, these changes are intended to boldly and meaningfully
reinvent the museum as it looks ahead to its third century of operation and as the United States prepares to commemorate its 250th anniversary.

“As the oldest cultural organization in the Commonwealth and one of the largest and finest history collections in the nation, we take pride in saving and sharing the complex and consequential history of Virginia. We believe in the unparalleled role history plays in creating a strong, healthy, and inspired society. History gives us perspective and empathy – something we all could use more of now and always. History matters,” said VMHC President & CEO Jamie Bosket, “As we – as a nation, state, and community – reckon with our past, it is more important than ever that your state history museum is a community partner that adds great value. The VMHC is excited to embark on this important project on behalf of all Virginians and our shared future.”

Originally planned for 2022, these extensive capital improvements were expedited as part of the VMHC’s strategy to sustain through the current health and financial crisis. Overlapping the planned and subsidized disruption of renovation with the uncontrollable and unplanned challenge of COVID-19 will help the museum endure now and in the future. The VMHC is one of the few major museums in Virginia to survive its public closure.

“Being nimble and moving quickly with the work ahead, we believe we can not only maintain our team and continue to grow our tremendous portfolio of digital history programming, one of the most robust of any like museum, but we will also be able to re-emerge from these challenging times with strength and stability,” said Bosket. A recent national survey of the American Alliance of Museums suggested that as many as one in three American museums may be forced to shutter because of the impacts of COVID-19.

“We also believe that making this investment now is one way that we can do our part to contribute to our collective recovery – providing a new project that will engage dozens of local and regional businesses, and even allow for modest job creation at the museum,” commented Bosket.

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Flower Delivery by GWAR’s JiZMak Da Gusha is Terrifyingly Awesome

Nicola Flora has for a limited time a special delivery person (delivery demon, delivery thing).

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Originally spotted on rva/Reddit is the news that will be sure to brighten that special someone in your life. Sure it will cost you $100 bucks but how many people in this world can say they got flowers from a dog-headed drummer?

ATTENTION SCUMDOGS OF RICHMOND!!!!

Has your quarantine been as pitiful and pathetic as your meaningless existence?

If so, then we have just the thing to add some much-needed excitement (and possibly some terror) to your day!

For a limited time only, GWAR’s infamous dog-headed drummer JiZMak Da Gusha is delivering flowers on behalf of Nicola Flora. (He really needs the money.)

This special delivery service starts at $100 and includes a designer’s choice floral arrangement, delivery and photos with JiZMak.

Please include any messages you would like JiZMak to yell at your unfortunate flower victim on your behalf.

Place your order here.

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VMFA Recognizes Healthcare Workers and First Responders with Free Admission to Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities

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VMFA let us know about this wonderful opportunity for those on our frontlines to check out Sunken Cities.

Governor Ralph Northam and Alex Nyerges, Director and CEO of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), today announced that healthcare workers and first responders can receive free admission to the exhibition Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities on view now through January 18, 2021.

First responders include 911 dispatchers, law-enforcement officers, professional and volunteer firefighters, professional and volunteer emergency medical services personnel, emergency management professionals, search and rescue teams, rescue pilots and divers, the Virginia National Guard, and members of other organizations in the public safety sector.

“Our healthcare workers and first responders have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working tirelessly to keep our communities safe and healthy over the past seven months,” said Governor Northam. “We are extending this well-deserved ‘thank you’ from the Commonwealth and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and hope those who continue to serve Virginia so ably can experience this special exhibition.”

“VMFA welcomes first responders and all who work in healthcare to take advantage of free admission and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the wonders of ancient Egypt,” said Nyerges.

Among the nearly 300 objects featured in the exhibition are 250 works recovered from the underwater excavations of the ancient Egyptian cities of Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion. An additional 40 objects were loaned by museums in Egypt. Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities was curated by Franck Goddio, the director of the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) and organized for VMFA by Dr. Peter Schertz, the museum’s Jack and Mary Anne Frable Curator of Ancient Art.

Image Credit: VMFA

Highlights of the exhibition include a nearly 18-foot-tall, 5.6-ton statue of the god Hapy, the largest stone statue of a god recovered from ancient Egypt, beautiful statues of other gods and rulers of that civilization, and fascinating objects used to celebrate the annual Mysteries of Osiris.

Healthcare workers and first responders should call (804) 340-1405 to make their reservations and show their employee IDs or badges at the Visitors Services Desk when picking up their tickets. One free ticket is available per badge. Reservations for first-available tickets to the exhibition can also be made in person at the Visitors Service Desk. Reservations may not be available on weekends due to heightened visitation on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are scheduled to help limit gallery capacity during the pandemic.

Visitors to VMFA will notice several measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 with the well-being of visitors, volunteers, and employees in mind. Masks are required in the museum and disposable masks will be provided to people who do not bring their own. For complete information about the museum’s safeguards please visit the museum’s website at vmfa.museum/covid-19.

Ticket Information
The exhibition is free for VMFA members, children ages six and under, state employees, teachers, healthcare workers, first responders, and active duty military personnel. Tickets to see the exhibition Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors 65+, and $10 for youth aged 7–17 and college students with ID.

Sponsorship Information
Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities is presented by Dominion Energy. In addition to previous exhibition sponsorships, the museum’s Dominion Energy Galleries house one of the strongest public collections of African art in the United States.

Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities is organized by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology with the generous support of the Hilti Foundation and in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The exhibition program at VMFA is supported by the Julia Louise Reynolds Fund. Additional sponsors include The Reverend Doctor Vienna Cobb Anderson, The Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment, Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Cabaniss, Jr., Sharon Merwin, Capital One Bank, Mrs. Frances Dulaney, Mary Ann and Jack Frable, Virginia H. Spratley Charitable Fund II, Elizabeth and Tom Allen, Lilli and William Beyer, Dr. Donald S. and Ms. Beejay Brown Endowment, Wayne and Nancy Chasen Family Fund of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, The Christian Family Foundation, The VMFA Council Exhibition Fund, Birch Douglass, Jeanann Gray Dunlap Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Garner, Jr., Dr. and Mrs. William V. Garner, Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc., Francena T. Harrison Foundation Trust, Peter and Nancy Huber, The Manuel and Carol Loupassi Foundation, Margaret and Thomas Mackell, Deanna M. Maneker, Alexandria Rogers McGrath, McGue Millhiser Family Trust, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, The Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins, Jr., Foundation, Joanne B. Robinson, Stauer, Anne Marie Whittemore, YHB | CPAs & Consultants, YouDecide, and two anonymous donors.

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‘Black Space Matters’ exhibit transforms asphalt lot behind VCU ICA into garden

A local activist transformed a vacant lot outside the Institute for Contemporary Art in Richmond to highlight issues of food security and the importance of Black and brown community spaces.

Capital News Service

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By India Espy-Jones

A local activist transformed a vacant lot outside the Institute for Contemporary Art in Richmond to highlight issues of food security and the importance of Black and brown community spaces.

The “Commonwealth” exhibit at Virginia Commonwealth University’s ICA features work from 10 artists including an outdoor installation created by activist and community farmer Duron Chavis who builds gardens throughout Richmond. The full exhibit seeks to examine how common resources influence the wealth and well-being of communities.

Chavis proposed the resiliency garden exhibit in 2019 during a public forum at the ICA. The resiliency garden—food grown to weather the tough times and to have food independence— is installed in an asphalt lot at Grace and Belvidere streets next to the ICA and features 30 raised beds of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

An extension of the garden exhibit is the “Black Space Matters” mural by Southside artist Silly Genius. A wall in the lot is painted, with fruit making the word Black and beneath the garden in big, yellow letters is “Space Matters.” The garden beds have historic quotes from civil rights leaders Kwame Ture and Malcolm X, among other activists.

“Black Space Matters means that Black people need space,” Chavis said. “We need space that is explicitly designed, planned, and implemented by Black and brown people.”

Chavis, along with a crew of volunteers, started building the garden on Aug. 10 while the ICA temporarily closed to install other exhibits.

“We invited him to think with us about how to activate a vacant lot next to the ICA,” said Stephanie Smith, ICA chief curator. “You could think about what it means to take a space and institutional resources, then give them over to an activist.”

Chavis seeks to address the lack of food access through his activism. Food insecurity, defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food,” is an issue in Richmond’s low-income neighborhoods. The city had over 35,000 food insecure people in 2018, according to Feeding America, a network of more than 200 food banks.

“In a conversation about food justice, Black people are predominately impacted by lack of food access,” Chavis said. “We need space to address that issue.”

Low-income communities need access to resources and necessary skills to solve food wealth issues on their own, he said.

“We do not need anybody to come into our community to drop off food,” Chavis said.

He’s been doing work like this since 2012 and doesn’t have a hard count of how many garden beds have been built.

“Dozens, oh god, it’s all across the city,” he said.

Chavis amplified his efforts this year because of the pandemic. He fundraised and received a grant, according to a VPM report, to build over 200 resiliency gardens with the help of volunteers.

Quilian Riano, an architect at New York studio DSGN AGNC, designed the concept drawing for the ICA garden, which was envisioned as a public space for conversation and lecture. The completed garden is near identical to the original design except with an added texture and dimension, Riano said.

 The “Commonwealth” exhibit will be open until Jan. 17, 2021. After the exhibit ends, the gardens’ supplies and plants will be redistributed to other resiliency garden project locations throughout Richmond. Chavis collaborates with other groups and people to help people grow their own food during the pandemic.

Tickets to the indoor exhibitions can be reserved on the ICA website. Exhibits include a video performance by indigenous artist Tanya Lukin Linklater, Carolina Caycedo’s “Distressed Debt” and a sculpture by Lukin Linklater and Tiffany Shaw-Collinge.

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