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The Virginia Museum of History & Culture wins 2021 National Award of Excellence

The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 76th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

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The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) announced today that the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) has been selected as a 2021 National Award of Excellence recipient for their year-long leadership of Virginia’s Women’s Suffrage Centennial. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 76th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

Throughout 2020, the VMHC coordinated several popular programs as part of their statewide effort to mark the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Highlights of their work honored by the AASLH included the exhibition titled Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from Women’s Suffrage to Today, which was mounted at the museum and included a travelling version which was seen throughout the state. The exhibition surveyed 100 years of women’s civic activism and featured a diverse selection of Virginia women who challenged concepts of femininity, advanced women’s equality and reshaped the nature of American democracy. This exhibition also included Today’s Agents of Change, a special re-creation of a historic photograph of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia in Richmond’s Capitol Square in 1915. The VMHC brought together a diverse group of female changemakers from across the state to recreate this image and highlight the diversity of women’s activism in Virginia today.

Also accompanying the exhibition, the documentary film These Things Can Be Done: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia, which was produced in partnership with VPM (Virginia Public Media) and used rare archival footage, the words and images of key figures, and commentary from historians and contemporary activists to tell the story of the suffrage movement in Virginia. The film provided historical context for the recent upsurge of female activism seen in the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, Women’s Marches, and a wave of female officeholders.

The VMHC Education Team was also instrumental in ensuring that students and educators throughout Virginia had access to commemoration content through extensive virtual programming. Custom programs commemorating the Suffrage Centennial such as “Sign of the Times: Activism in the Suffrage Movement,” proved very popular.

This year, AASLH is proud to confer thirty-eight national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.

The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena. For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-230-3203 or go to www.aaslh.org.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Arts & Entertainment

Patrick Patrong named VMFA’s new Chief Diversity Officer

As Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Deputy Director for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and HR Strategic Initiatives, Patrong will assist in leading EDIA strategies defined in VMFA’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan and co-lead the museum’s commitment to the ONE Virginia Plan recently launched by the Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM).

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced the appointment of Patrick Patrong to the position of Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Deputy Director for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and HR Strategic Initiatives. Patrong comes to VMFA with more than 25 years of experience as a public service leader.

Currently the lead facilitator for his consulting firm, Patrong Enterprises, Inc., he has also worked as Construction Training Manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation and Director of the Training, Education and Exercise Division for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. In addition, he led organizational diversity initiatives for seven professional schools of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, while serving as Director of Organization and Employee Development.

“Patrick has a solid background in implementing and managing diversity programs at several agencies in the public sector. We are delighted to have someone with his extensive experience joining the museum’s human resources team,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “Patrick will play a leading role taking VMFA’s EDIA initiatives to the next level and ensuring that the values of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility are fully integrated into everything the museum does and shared with all VMFA employees.”

As Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Deputy Director for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and HR Strategic Initiatives, Patrong will assist in leading EDIA strategies defined in VMFA’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan and co-lead the museum’s commitment to the ONE Virginia Plan recently launched by the Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM).

For more than a decade, VMFA has actively worked to diversify its collection, exhibitions, staff and audience. Building on the success of its previous strategic plan, the museum strives to become a more vibrant, inclusive cultural leader. The museum’s current strategic plan demonstrates its commitment to the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. VMFA’s vision is to be an institution that empowers all Virginians — through art and creativity — to reflect and connect to each other, their communities and the wider world.

“I am excited to join the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts team, to work with employees and the museum’s community on expanding the institutional EDIA initiatives. VMFA’s diverse organizational culture already has unique advantages when it comes to attracting diverse staff and visitors and developing museum exhibitions, art collections and programs that appeal to diverse communities,” said Patrong. “Communication, idea generation, creativity and connectivity are all enhanced through engagement with the museum’s representative communities.”

“Patrick’s knowledge and experience will help VMFA continue to advance towards instilling EDIA values and practices, becoming a more valuable and relevant community resource, and providing even greater access to the arts for all people in the Commonwealth,” said Kimberly Wilson, VMFA’s Chief Operating Officer and CHRO/Deputy Director for Human Resource Services, Museum Operations and Volunteers.

Patrong will begin his position at VMFA on July 26. For more information about VMFA’s strategic plan and EDIA initiatives visit www.VMFA.museum.

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BrewHaHa Craft Beer Festival at Virginia Museum of History & Culture Set to Pour Again

Eight breweries and one cidery will be on hand to let you imbibe in the shadow of a whole bunch of history.

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It’s official the popular beer festival is making a return this year.

In recognition of Virginia Craft Beer Month, the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) is delighted to welcome guests back to “BrewHaHa” after not being able to host the event in 2020. The 4th annual craft beer festival will be held on Saturday, August 7, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm on the front lawn of the museum.

“We are absolutely thrilled to bring BrewHaHa back this summer after a year’s hiatus,” said VMHC President and CEO Jamie Bosket. “The COVID epidemic struck many industries, with the hospitality, food and drink industries hit particularly hard. We’re very proud to once again host this festival that will benefit everyone involved, and allow us to again offer lively, outdoor entertainment to all Virginia craft beer lovers.”

Beers and ciders produced by brewers from across the Commonwealth will be on tap including:

  • Big Ugly Brewing – Chesapeake, VA
  • 6 Bears & A Goat Brewing Company – Fredericksburg, VA
  • Wasserhund Brewing Company – Virginia Beach, VA
  • Coastal Fermentory – Newport News, VA
  • Capstan Bar Brewing Company – Hampton, VA
  • Brothers Craft Brewing – Harrisonburg, VA
  • Elation Brewing Company – Norfolk, VA
  • Caiseal Beer & Spirits Co. – Hampton, VA
  • Blue Toad Cidery – Roseland, VA

Attendees can sip offerings from a variety of local Virginia brewers as they play lawn games and listen to live music. Food will be available for purchase from Woodhead’s Grill food truck. The event will occur rain or shine, and the museum’s galleries will be open as well.

Member pre-sale tickets are available now. Tickets for the general public will be available beginning on July 15. Purchase tickets prior to July 22 to receive a reduced price of $24 per adult. Beginning July 22 General Admission tickets increase to $30. All tickets include free admission to the museum, a commemorative tasting glass, eight tasting tickets, and access to paid food concessions. Designated drivers and non-tasters 21 years and older may purchase a $10 ticket to enter the event. Visit VirginiaHistory.org/Beer for tickets and more information.

As mentioned above members can get their tickets now non-members will have to check out this page starting July 22.

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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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