Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Places to visit on one tank of gas: Virginia Museum Of Fine Arts

Gallery views of Napoleon: Power and Splendor (David Stover/Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
Gallery views of Napoleon: Power and Splendor (David Stover/Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

Editor’s note: No need for a plane ticket. Put that passport away. This story is part of a series that features regional attractions outside of the Williamsburg area that can be driven to on a tank of gas or less. Buckle up and hit the road.

“Imagination rules the world.”

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

If you recognize these quotes, then you should really make a trip to the Virginia Fine Arts Museum in Richmond.

The “Napoleon: Power and Splendor” exhibition is on display at the Museum through Sept. 3. Tickets are required for this particular exhibit unless you are a museum member, then there is no charge. Thursday and Friday evenings offer a buy one/get one deal.

History lovers know of Napoleon Bonaparte as a militaristic and political force who rose to power during the French Revolution. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history and one of the most controversial leaders.

The extensive collection of more than 200 works of art, many of which have never been exhibited in the United States, gives a glimpse into his daily life and the range of works commissioned by and for him. Portraits of Napoleon are the centerpiece of the exhibit, which is enhanced by projection technology to give guests an immersive experience.

According to the museum’s web page, “the exhibition of international loans includes major masterpieces of painting, an array of decorative arts, sculptures, engravings, and more — brought together by the Chateau de Fontainebleu, the Louvre, the Musée de l’Armée in Paris, and other world-class collections.”

Gallery views of Napoleon: Power and Splendor (David Stover/Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
Gallery views of Napoleon: Power and Splendor (David Stover/Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

“The exhibition is not a glorification of the life and history of Napoleon as a hero, but instead focuses on Napoleon’s staff and the art it commissioned to show how images and propaganda are used to influence perceptions of power,” said Jessica Haddad, the museum’s public relations manager. “The subject matter is still incredibly relevant in today’s social-media fueled culture.”

The exhibition has been described as “stunning” and offers visitors a major “wow” factor.

The museum also offers many free exhibits as part of its permanent collection and is open 365 days a year.

Artist Howardena Pindell. Image courtesy of VMFA
Artist Howardena Pindell. Image courtesy of VMFA

The newest free exhibition is from New York-based, multidisciplinary artist Howardena Pindell.  Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen is the first major survey of the artist’s five-decades-long career and will run from Aug. 25 through Nov. 25. The exhibition features Pindell’s early figurative paintings, abstract and conceptual works, as well as personal and political art. According to a news release, “The exhibition traces themes and visual experiments that run throughout her work up to the present, and includes her photography, video, film and performance art.”

In addition to art, the museum offers weekly and monthly events. If you find yourself heading that way on a Thursday night, you can catch an eclectic mix of jazz ensembles, which perform as part of the Dominion Energy Jazz Café. Small bites and drinks are for sale during the family-friendly event. You can find more information of performances, here.

On Friday evenings, check out Art & Wine. A perfect date night that offers Happy Hour specials on beverages and free half-hour gallery tours at 7 and 7:30 p.m. There’s always something new to see!

If you go

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has more information about its exhibits and programming on its website and Facebook page.



Related Articles