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Arts & Entertainment

VMFA announces international firm SmithGroup will design museum’s new $190 million wing

The firm’s portfolio features several national museum projects including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collections and Conservation Center in Maryland, the Detroit Institute of Arts in Michigan, as well as the National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

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Following its recent Board of Trustees meeting, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced that the integrated design firm SmithGroup has been selected to design the museum’s upcoming $190 million expansion and renovation project. The decision follows a comprehensive international search.

SmithGroup will be charged with designing a new wing at VMFA with state-of-the-art gallery spaces for African art, photography, and 21st-century art, as well as a second major exhibition space and a special events space with dining facilities that can seat up to 500 guests on the garden-level ground floor. The new wing will also provide a welcoming entrance to and from the E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden to encourage visitors to enter and enjoy the museum.

In addition to the new wing, large parts of the existing building will be renovated to include improved gallery spaces for the permanent collection, increased facilities for art storage, new education classrooms, and upgrades to the Leslie Cheek Theater, Evans Court, and the 1936 Entrance. The expansion and renovation project will also support the museum’s commitment to enhancing the visitor experience and the institution’s strategic plan which calls for offering a range of curator-led, visitor-centered art experiences that engage, captivate and delight a diverse audience.

“We are thrilled to have SmithGroup on board and excited to collaborate with their visionary team on this exciting building project,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “The firm has demonstrated expertise in planning and designing dynamic, engaging museum environments. SmithGroup’s spirit of collaboration; its profound commitment to the same values that guide VMFA — diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; its first-hand knowledge of Richmond and Virginia; and its drive for innovation make them an exceptional choice for VMFA’s ambitious expansion and renovation project.”

An award-winning international firm, SmithGroup’s extensive portfolio features several impressive national museum projects including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collections and Conservation Center in Maryland, the Detroit Institute of Arts in Michigan, as well as the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. SmithGroup is currently designing the re-envisioned Thomas Gilcrease Museum of American History and Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The firm’s work is recognized locally as well. SmithGroup designed the concept for the National Slavery Museum at the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site/Devil’s Half Acre for the City of Richmond.

“VMFA’s mission for education throughout the Commonwealth and the region; its commitment to displaying and preserving its extraordinary collections, including African and African American Art; its dedication to advancing Black and women artists; and its culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility resonated with each of us on the project team,” said Jamē Anderson, SmithGroup’s Cultural Practice Director and Principal in Charge. “We believe this is a pivotal time for museums and recognize that the process and the physical design of a cultural entity speak volumes about its values.”

This marks the fifth expansion project VMFA has undertaken since the museum’s opening in 1936. Currently, the museum, one of the top ten comprehensive art museums in the U.S., comprises 650,000 square feet. The latest expansion plans call for a new wing that will provide an additional 100,000 square feet of total space, as well as a new stand-alone Collections Center building to be located on VMFA’s campus. This new facility of 40,000 square feet will house the museum’s conservation department, as well as registration and art storage. In addition to new construction, the museum will carry out approximately 45,000 square feet of renovations to the existing building to create a seamless visitor experience and meet the museum’s current and future needs for the permanent collection. The renovations include transforming the museum’s former library into the Frank Raysor Center, a dedicated photography, prints, and drawings study center, comprising a study room for scholars, curators, and professors, and students from local colleges and universities, as well as matting and framing, and compact storage for the museum’s growing collection of nearly 26,000 works on paper.

“SmithGroup presented us with an inspired proposal that dovetailed beautifully with our desire to reimagine and transform the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,” said Michael R. Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education, who is the Project Director for the expansion and renovation project. “SmithGroup’s passion for our institution, including our collection, staff, and mission, was obvious during the selection and interview process. Their blend of technical expertise balanced with their exceptional conceptual ability makes them the ideal design partner and we look forward to our collaboration with them on this landmark building project.”

With the selection of SmithGroup, VMFA’s project will begin with a discovery and design phase, which is expected to take approximately 24 months. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2023, with the new wing tentatively slated for completion in the summer of 2025. As the museum’s expansion project progresses, updates will be available at www.VMFA.museum.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.

Arts & Entertainment

Punks for Presents Tickets on Sale Now

Punk music shows that provide presents for kids in need is a truly worthy cause.

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A Richmond punk rock Christmas tradition beginning in 2005. Christmas themed punk and metal parody bands putting on shows for charity every year!

You can learn more on Instagram or Facebook. Their still looking for prize donations and sponsors. Head over to one of those social media spots and drop them a DM.

Lineup

December 9, 2022 NIGHT 1 – THE CAMEL $10 ALL AGES
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/5838562/punks-for-presents-at-the-camel-richmond-the-camel
IMAGINARY TOYS (THE CURE)
TOY DIVISION (JOY DIVISION)
X-MAS (X)
JOLLY HOLLY (BUDDY HOLLY)

December 10, 2022 NIGHT 2 – WONDERLAND $10 21+
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/8522910/punks-for-presents-at-wonderland-richmond-wonderland
ROCKET QUEEN (GUNS N ROSES)
SMOOCH (KISS)
MERRYDETH (MEGADETH)

December 16, 2022 NIGHT 3 – RICHMOND MUSIC HALL $10 ALL AGES
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/2384207/punks-for-presents-at-richmond-music-hall-richmond-richmond-music-hall
YOOL (TOOL)
SNO TEMPLE PILOTS (STONE TEMPLE PILOTS)
HIGH VOLTAGE (AC/DC)
SMASHING PRESENTS (SMASHING PUMPKINS
)SNOASIS (OASIS)

December 17, 2022 NIGHT 4 – HARDYWOOD $10 ALL AGES
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/4831118/punks-for-presents-at-hardywood-richmond-hardywood
OPERATION ICY (OPERATION IVY)
DEC.ENDENTS (DESCENDENTS)
MXPXMAS (MXPX)
SALT, SWEAT, SUGAR-COOKIES (JIMMY EAT WORLD)
RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REIN-QUEERS (THE QUEERS)
KRIS LITTLE KRINGLES (STIFF LITTLE FINGERS)

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Arts & Entertainment

VMFA announces upcoming exhibition “Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass”

“We are thrilled to have Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass in VMFA’s collection,” said Cassel Oliver. “Frederick Douglass’ powerful orations and the innovative and captivating cinematography of Issac Julien will help visitors better understand Douglass’ legacy and the relevance to our contemporary experience.”

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) this week announced the multi-screen film installation Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass, on view at the museum in Richmond from December 10, 2022 through July 9, 2023. The installation is organized by Valerie Cassel Oliver, VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

“The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is delighted to present this compelling work about Frederick Douglass, one of the most significant figures in American history,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “Through his advocacy in abolition and women’s suffrage, he called on the nation to make important reforms and embrace human rights, regardless of race or gender.”

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will present the film as an immersive ten-screen experience as envisioned by its creator, internationally renowned London-born artist and filmmaker, Sir Isaac Julien. The work is a poetic meditation on the great abolitionist and features a series of vignettes from Douglass’ life prior to and during his travel to the United Kingdom in 1841. Using arresting visuals and sound, Julien brings the historical figure to life and collapses time and space to bridge history with the persistent concerns of our day.

“We are thrilled to have Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass in VMFA’s collection,” said Cassel Oliver. “Frederick Douglass’ powerful orations and the innovative and captivating cinematography of Issac Julien will help visitors better understand Douglass’ legacy and the relevance to our contemporary experience.”

Douglass is portrayed by Shakespearean actor Ray Fearon in a series of fragmented scenes that are woven with spoken word, photography and contemporary footage to make the historic figure’s modern-day relevance and resonance undeniable. The 25-minute installation, which appears on multiple screens where images converge as a whole and then fragment into a montage, can be watched repeatedly, welcoming visitors to sit in the meditative space for a nonlinear viewing experience that makes each encounter with the work unique.

The installation also includes three tintype portraits — a collaboration between Julien and photographer Rob Ball — of the film’s subjects, Frederick Douglass, his wife Anna Murray Douglass and prominent African-American photographer J. P. Ball. Douglass was aware that words and images had powerful meaning. He used media, specifically photography, to counter the misperceptions of Black people in 19th-century America. Through a lifelong collaboration with Ball, Douglass had portraits taken of himself, portraying the Black body as noble and beautiful, and became the most photographed individual of the century.

The world premiere of the rare ten-screen film installation of Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass took place in 2019, at the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester, which commissioned the film and partnered with VMFA to acquire the work for both museums’ permanent collections.

For more information about Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour — Frederick Douglass and programs related to the exhibition, visit www.VMFA.museum.

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Arts & Entertainment

Catch the Holiday Spirit at Maymont with Christmas tours, wreath workshops and a Merry Market

Check out the historic mansion decked out for the holidays, get your shopping done, and enjoy a merry good time at Maymont this holiday season.

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There’s no place like Maymont for the holidays, and something for everyone at the estate this time of year. First, starting November 18 through January 1, 2023, a special Christmas-themed audio tour will be offered at Maymont Mansion, which will be decorated for the season in Victorian style. The self-guided tour provides insights into the high pomp — and hard work — of holiday entertaining during the Gilded Age.

Second, the public is invited to create their own fresh evergreen wreaths in one of seven hands-on Wreath Workshops, Tuesday, November 29 – Saturday, December 3, under the expert guidance of Maymont staff. And a new event, Merry Market, Friday, December 2 & Saturday, December 3, celebrates winter with a two-day, pop-up holiday market of 50 local artisans, plus cozy fire pits, a festive holiday bar, live music, crafts for kids and a chance to take a selfie with Saint Nicholas.

The highlight of Merry Market is shopping for locally crafted, and imported handmade gifts in an outdoor marketplace surrounded by historic buildings draped in fresh evergreen garlands and twinkling lights on the Carriage House Lawn. Shoppers can stay fueled up with something tasty from the festive holiday bar and food vendors, and warm up around fire pits and outdoor heaters, while an a cappella vocal group and a jazz combo set the mood. Kids can make their own handmade gifts and decorations and snap a photo with Saint Nicholas.

Artisans will be selling a variety of hand-crafted accessories, décor, and housewares that make thoughtful gifts for the holidays. Among the offerings are stained glass artworks by KiYay Studios, pottery by Tana Makes, art prints by Laura Marr/FlourishRVA, fair-trade décor and accessories selected and imported by one little world, handmade jewelry by Bee is for Bead, gifts for nature lovers by Rabbit & Wren, handmade fabric products from India imported by Asha project, art by Abuelita’s, custom polymer jewelry by SassyHappy, woodworking by Southside Sawdust, plus, hand embroidery, candles, soaps, knitwear, pet treats and accessories, and much more!

“Merry Market is a chance for the community to celebrate the season with friends and neighbors in the unique historic setting at Maymont,” said Parke Richeson, Executive Director. “With live music, holiday lights, cozy fire pits, and crafts for kids, everyone will enjoy relaxing on the Carriage House Lawn along with a little holiday shopping with local small businesses and craftspeople.”

Saint Nicholas will be available for photos with the family, and children can also make their own gifts and holiday decorations at the crafts tent. A selection of food, desserts, hot coffee, cocoa, and other beverages will be available for separate purchase from food vendors, including Goatocado, The Cocky Rooster, Monique’s Crepes, Timber Pizza, and Pops Kettle Corn. The festive holiday bar will serve red wine and holiday craft beers to guests ages 21 and over.

Merry Market tickets may be purchased in advance or at the gate for $10 per person; $5 for children ages 3 – 12; and free for children ages 2 and under. Maymont members enjoy free admission. Guests who present an EBT card receive discounted tickets for $3 (on-site only) through the Museums for All program. All proceeds benefit Maymont.

Please note: Maymont will close at 4 pm on Friday, December 2, and 1 pm on Saturday, December 3, to prepare for Merry Market. Guests will enter Merry Market through the Historic Estate entrance at 1700 Hampton Street. Event parking is available at the Historic Estate parking lot and The Robins Nature Center, in addition to street parking. The Maymont Farm entrance is closed for the event. Merry Market takes place entirely outdoors, rain or shine, except in the case of severe weather. Guests are advised to wear weather-appropriate clothing and footwear suited for an outdoor lawn.

The Wreath Workshops tend to fill up in advance and include wreath supplies and refreshments, but guests are advised to bring their own snippers and gardening gloves. On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, Wreath Workshop admission ($55 per person, $41 for members) includes admission to Merry Market. Times vary; visit the events calendar for details.

Holiday Audio Tours are $8 per person, $6 for children ages 3 – 12, and free for Maymont Members and Museums for All participants.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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