On the Road: Adventures: Virginia Musuem of Fine Arts

Here we are outside with Red Reeds!

Here we are outside with Red Reeds!

She Said: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

I love Dale Chihuly. I discovered his work several years ago and I’ve always been amazed by the wonderful, strange and beautiful things that he creates with glass. So, I was thrilled when we got an invitation to an alumni day where we would attend the Chihuly exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia.

The museum itself is very nice. It was bright, clean and modern without being distracting. Sometimes the architecture and design of a museum competes with the works that you are looking at. But, the VMFA is very nice without being a show in itself. I do wish that there maybe a few more benches, in more places for people who have weary after hours of standing. I really did enjoy my experience at the museum itself.  In spite of the museum being crowded, because it was a Saturday and Kid’s Day, my only space complaint was the lack of places to sit for a bit and rest. RJ and I were both inspired to write and simply couldn’t find an available place to do it! Even though it was bustling the crowd wasn’t overwhelming, so that was nice. Of course, I was also happy because there was not only a gift shop, but a Chihuly exhibit shop as well. I’m very happy to have the catalogue from the show because I really loved it.

The Chihuly exhibit was the first item on our museum agenda. It was amazing! I was literally stunned looking at the beautiful works. RJ and I both were amazed. I took tons of photos, we talked more than we ever have an exhibit, and we really took our time going through. We were inspired and thoroughly delighted by these beautiful works. I could talk for hours about all the different works that I liked and how they made me feel. But, I think for this post I’ll limit it to my 3 favorites

Top 3 Chihuly favorites

 Float Boat and Fiori Boat

The boats are stunning. Every time I see them, I think about Willy Wonka. I almost want to taste them because they are so saturated and beautiful. The shapes and colors are so unique. Some of the balls look like eyes and some like distant and mysterious planets. Your imagination is completely awakened by looking at a pieces like Chihuly creates. The longer you look at things the more you start to see shapes that are recognizable in our world, such as snakes, flowers and plants, but you notice different qualities about their shapes.

Persian Ceiling

It was a dream to stand underneath the Persian Ceiling. It’s one of my favorite works, let a lone a favorite of Chihuly pieces. I felt like Alice in Wonderland when I was looking at it. As I looked up all I could see were amazingly structured glass flowers and tucked here and there a tiny sea creature that enhanced the feel of the briny depths. It was so breathtaking, I didn’t want to leave.

Mille Fiori

This whole sculpture, which is the largest floral sculpture in the world, is stunning. I felt like were surveying an alien planet. There were things that I recognized, tiny squid and other sea creatures, but overall it felt like a totally foreign landscape. I love the giant turquoise rocks and the golden nuggets the best in this piece. I still feel like I almost visited another planet instead of a museum

The Chihuly exhibit is closed now, but the VMFA still has tons of really great pieces in their permanent collection.  I found all sorts of treasures, but I’ll try to limit myself again to just telling you about a few special pieces.

Top 3 Works from the Permanent Collection

Worsham-Rockefeller Bedroom

This is a room! Like it’s everything in an entire bedroom (with just a wall missing to peek in through and it’s so beautiful. The dark, carved woodwork paired with the dramatic ceiling and light fixtures were stunning. I love that room so much I wish I could move in! I had no idea that they had a piece on such a large scale as a full bedroom! I will always be trying to replicate this room in my decorating from now on! I’m so glad they were able to acquire this beautiful room.


Brideship (Colonial Brides) by Thomas Hart Benton

This painting caught my eye because of its jaunty colors and composition. But, after reading the information about it, I really fell for it. I love how it shows the story of Colonial mail-order brides and the fear/hope that they must have felt.


The Little Dancer by Degas

This little lady is so pretty! Degas is one of my favorite painters, but I also love his sculptures. The museum has several pieces of his sculpture, but my favorite is the little dancer. She just looks like she’s ready to take your hand and start spinning around the room. Her attitude is a lovely as her delicate and aging tutu. We stopped to look at this piece for a long time because she was so striking

Based on my own personal taste, I highly recommend the American Collection, French Collection, 21st Century Collection and the Art Deco collection. These areas are a wealth of treasures to innumerable to discuss here!

I’m so thankful to the Alumni Association at Emory & Henry College for organizing this event! We had a wonderful day and will definitely visit this museum again! I’m looking forward to several of their upcoming exhibits. And of course I’ll look forward to seeing my favorite pieces in the permanent collection, too!

Kari’s Ratings

Chihuly Exhibit- 10

Permanent collection- 8

Museum Itself- 7

Overall of Day- 8

Fiori Boat, 2012, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 6x19X10' Photo: Scott M. Leen

Fiori Boat, 2012, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 6x19X10′ Photo: Scott M. Leen

Persian Ceiling (detail), 2012, Virginia Musuem of Fine Arts, Richmond. Photo by: Scott M. Leen

Persian Ceiling (detail), 2012, Virginia Musuem of Fine Arts, Richmond. Photo by: Scott M. Leen

He Said: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

We recently went to an alumni event for our college.  This was no ordinary luncheon.  They arranged for us to go to the Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts to see the Dale Chihuly exhibit and the rest of their exhibits.

This was a really cool experience.  The museum itself is really beautiful.  It’s laid out very well to allow for meandering.

Chihuly’s work is truly amazing.  The shapes and colors he creates with glass are just unbelievable.  It’s truly transcendent.  To say it takes you to another world isn’t accurate because every piece takes you to a different world.  Some are aquatic, some are ethereal, some are striking, but it’s hard to tell any of it would have got there.  It’s very inspiring.

The first room you walk into is devoted to the Float Boat and Fiori Boat.  The Float boat is filled with globes that look like they could be little planets.  The various swirls and colors are breathtaking, and the combinations that he chose here are fascinating.  The Fiori Boat has a variety of glass pieces that look alternately like serpents’ tongues, fire, or balloons.  I could have stayed in this room all day.

Then you go into a tunnel with a Persian Ceiling.  Chihuly’s Persian Ceilings feature all kinds of glass items on the ceiling above you lit from above.  Coming from the first room, which was dark it’s a real shock how bright this room is.  You feel like you’re walking in a tunnel in an aquarium in another world.  The coolest part to me was his inclusion of little creatures like starfish and seahorses to bring you back to Earth, just when you though you were gone forever.

All the rooms were amazing, but those two were my favorites.

Even now that the exhibit is gone there are still some really cool things to see this museum.  It even has a fine dining restaurant on the top floor.  If we had made plans with a dear friend of ours, I would have definitively wanted to eat dinner at Amuse.

There are a lot of great paintings from various periods of American history including some really neat modern pieces.  My favorites though were sculptures and a full bedroom from the late 1800’s.

The sculptures were a totally unexpected find.  It turns out that they have several sculptures of Degas at the Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts.  If you’re unfamiliar with Degas, think back to the ballet dancers that came to life in Night at the Museum.  They have one here, The Little Dancer, that looks just like it came from that movie!  In the same room is a much smaller sculpture of a schoolgirl that looks just like Belle from Beauty and the Beast!  And she’s French so it totally makes sense!  Kari told me that what I thought was Belle’s signature hairstyle was actually a hat, but I still think Disney must have used that for reference!

One of the pieces that I enjoyed seeing very much was an entire apartment bedroom that a Rockefeller stayed in while in New York.  It was very neat to see something from that period.  No matter what Kari says, it’s too much for our bedroom, but it was really breathtaking nonetheless.  A docent that talked to our group before we entered the museum mentioned that this room is probably what Lady Cora’s bedroom looked like when she was young in New York, before she moved to England to live at Downtown Abbey. I thought that made it really cool and I enjoyed looking at it with that perspective.

We had a great day at this museum and will be back next season to see what’s new on display. We’ll definitely return.

RJ’s Ratings

Chihuly Exhibit-10

Permanent Collection-7

Museum Itself-7

Overall Day-9


Voting is still open for this month’s “Choose Our Adventure”, where readers get to determine a future blog post! Check it out and vote on a future date night that we’ll share all the details about! Vote now! 🙂