Expanded Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Opens Its Doors

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Expanded Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Opens Its Doors
This image shows the new James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Travis Fullerton. ©Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

RICHMOND, VA.- Visitors coming to the new James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will see spectacular art and activities inside even before they reach the entrance, thanks to an enormous expanse of glass on VMFA’s Boulevard façade.

The main window, 70 feet by 40 feet, and other large expanses of glass will let natural light pour into the heart of the museum by day and provide a welcoming beacon from the outside at night.

VMFA Director Alex Nyerges urges all Virginians to see the expanded museum. “Everything about it is bigger, brighter and more welcoming. Our new McGlothlin Wing gives us a thrilling and glamorous stage from which to welcome visitors and to display more of our global collection and present important special exhibitions,” he says.

The expanded museum includes double the space for major traveling exhibitions and increases total space for VMFA’s permanent collections and exhibitions to 134,000 square feet.

The McGlothlin Wing is the primary feature in the museum’s redevelopment of its 13-1/2-acre site that knits together additional new elements – the E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden, the Mary Morton Parsons Plaza, and a new landscaped parking deck – with the original museum and three other historic buildings on the museum’s grounds.

“The expansive Parsons Entrance Plaza and the lush green Robins Sculpture Garden open the museum to the city and immediately say ‘Come on in,’” Nyerges says.

“With the McGlothlin Wing, architect Rick Mather has designed a building that says ‘Welcome’ to all. You’ll be able to see what’s going on from the street outside, day and night.” We feel strongly that we should say in every way possible, ‘It’s your museum. It’s your art,’” Nyerges says.

Nyerges says the museum will be more welcoming to visitors in other ways, as well. Beginning May 1, the museum will be open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening hours extended until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Beginning July 2, the museum will also be open until 9 p.m. on Fridays. General admission to VMFA is always free. (Fees may apply for special exhibitions and programs. Members enjoy free admission to all exhibitions and discounts on programs.)

Limestone and glass cover the exterior of the wing, which also includes an art education center, conservation studios, the Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library, a gift shop, and two restaurants.

The expansion was designed by London-based Rick Mather Architects in partnership with a Richmond architectural firm, SMBW. The project is the first major U.S. commission for Mather, an American who has also designed modern additions to a number of Great Britain’s most venerable cultural institutions, among them the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

VMFA’s grand opening is sponsored by Altria Group, Dominion Resources, the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, and SunTrust Foundation, with support from individuals, foundations and corporations that made the VMFA expansion possible.

With a collection of art that spans the globe and more than 5,000 years, plus a wide array of special exhibitions, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is recognized as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. The museum’s permanent collection encompasses more than 22,000 works of art, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside Russia and one of the nation’s finest collections of American art. VMFA is home to acclaimed collections of English silver and Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British Sporting and Contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan and African art.

VMFA is opening its doors to the public after a transformative expansion, the largest in its 74-year history.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts | James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing | Alex Nyerges |

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