Art History Classes

VMFA Art History Classes provide adult audiences with the opportunity to investigate the history of art through dynamic and interactive lectures, gallery visits and discussions. For ages 16 and over.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds unless VMFA cancels a class. VMFA will cancel a class if 12 students are not enrolled one week before the start date.


The Art of Portraiture [54]

Tuesdays, Jul 5, 12, 19 & 26, 1 – 2:30 pm (4 sessions) | Conference Suite & Galleries
Brian Piper, PhD candidate, College of William & Mary
Inspired by the special exhibition Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, this introductory course explores the history of European and American portraiture during the 18th and 19th centuries. Focusing on the VMFA's permanent collection, lectures and gallery talks will consider how portraiture conveys a sitter's character and sense of self, while also embodying the painter's own artistic identity. Students will discover the influence of artists such as Francisco Goya, Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun, John Singleton Copley, John Singer Sargent, and Mary Cassatt on modern masters of the genre such as Kehinde Wiley.

$90 (VMFA members $75)


Art for Social Change: A History of Documentary Photography [55]

Wed, Jul 27, 1 – 2:30 pm, or Thu, Jul 28, 6:30 – 8 pm (1 session) | Conference Suite & Galleries
Jeffrey Allison, Paul Mellon Collection Educator & Manager of Statewide Programs, VMFA
From the late nineteenth century when journalist Jacob Riis used photographs to support his arguments about the need to reform living conditions in the slums, photography has been a powerful tool for social change. Learn about Riis and photographers featured in VMFA’s permanent collection including Lewis Hine, Danny Lyon, and Gordon Parks. This class will conclude with an instructor-led talk in the special exhibition Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott

$15 (VMFA members $12)