This museum houses Russian jewels, impressionist masters and ancient relics in its vast and varied collection.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has about 22,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years. See pieces by French artists such as Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, Americans such as John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer, and a collection of Fabergé jewels from Russia. There are also ancient Greek and Egyptian statues, and masks from the Congo.
Visitors to this museum can easily become overwhelmed by the range of arts on offer. The museum campus takes up 13.5 acres (5.4 hectares) of land in the Museum District northwest of downtown. There are about 545,000 square feet (50,632 square meters) of exhibitions and eateries, and a museum shop.
A good place to start is with a tour of the museum which seeks out highlights of the collection, such as wax and bronze statues by Edgar Degas. No reservations are necessary – just join a group leaving from the ticket office on the day. Otherwise, pick up an audio guide; they cover much the same things, but at your own pace. Find out about featured artists, how their pieces were made and why they are culturally significant.
The architecture is a mix of new and old. The original 1936 English Renaissance-style building is joined to newer wings by a three-story glass atrium. An outdoor Sculpture Garden features works of art among a waterfall, reflecting pool and landscaped slope.
Admission to the permanent collection is free, but most special exhibitions are not. Strollers are available for rent for free from the Coat Room.
Children can undertake an art scavenger hunt through the museum. Pick up a Family Fun Guide on your way in. There are also scheduled craft activities and art projects, which you’ll find information about in the guide.
In addition to American and European art, there are collections from Asia and Africa, including paintings, sculptures, masks and decorative objects. Pieces range from ancient to contemporary. Don’t miss the Art Deco and Art Nouveau furniture, and the collection of English silverware.
The museum is open every day of the year. Catch a bus from downtown, or drive. There is on-site parking for 600 cars, and metered street parking.