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.
Wednesdays, Apr 30 – May 21, 1 – 4 pm | Reynolds Lecture Hall Wednesdays, May 28 – Jun 18, 1 – 2:30 pm | Conference Suite & Galleries Wednesdays, Jun 11 – Jul 23, 2 – 3 pm (no class on Jun 25) | Pauley Center Parlor Thursdays, Jun 12 – 26, 6 – 8 pm | Conference Suite & Galleries Tuesdays, Jul 8 & 15, 2 – 3 pm | Conference Suite & Galleries Thursdays, Jul 3 – 24, 1 – 2 pm | Conference Suite & Galleries
Painting with Light: German Expressionist Cinema 
The “off kilter” graphic richness of Expressionist painting helped spawn the Golden Era of German Cinema, 1919 – 1933. Wrought with shadow, mood, artifice, authoritarian repression, and even monsters, German Expressionist cinema left an indelible mark on film style and history. Each session includes a lecture and a feature length movie (with a break in between). This class complements the installation of the VMFA’s European Modern art collection, which includes German Expressionist works from The Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection.
Arts of Nepal & the Himalayas 
Kerry Lucinda Brown, PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University
Journey through the mystical arts of the Himalayas. Using key works of Nepalese and Tibetan art in the VMFA collection, this class delves into the distinctive artistic styles of these regions, while exploring the philosophies and traditions that motivated the creation of objects. Students also learn to read some of the iconographic symbolism of these complex works of art.
The Age of Manet 
Dr. Donald Schrader, Adjunct Professor of Art History, University of Mary Washington
During the period known as the Belle Époque, France was the leading country of the world and its capital was the epitome of elegance and sophistication. But the times in which Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883) lived were also years of social unrest, political instability, and war, and the art that expressed that real-life drama was filled with the conflicts and convictions of its audience and its creators. This class explores the society that saw the first avant-garde, with Manet as its leader; friends and acquaintances of Manet, including Claude Monet and the Impressionists, James McNeill Whistler and other American-born expatriates; and Jean-Léon Gérôme and the academic painters of the French establishment.
Shifting Beauty: Imaging Blackness in the Photographic Era 
Tosha Grantham, PhD Candidate, Department of Art History and Archaeology, University of Maryland College Park and Curator, Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA
Inspired by the special exhibition Posing Beauty and Identity Shifts, an exhibition based on works in the VMFA collection, this course examines shifting notions of beauty and identity in modern and contemporary art. Through an in-depth look at portraiture in photographic, painterly, and sculptural media in both exhibitions, we consider diverse representations of blackness from the first half of the 20th century, as well as contemporary works that quote past forms or offer new approaches to art and identity. Each session begins with a brief lecture to present ideas, followed by group discussion alongside works in the galleries.
Includes admission to special exhibition.
Dig Deeper 
Celeste Fetta, VMFA Adult Programs Manager & Acting Chief Educator; Lulan Yu, VMFA Adult Programs Coordinator
Inspired by the introductory course Dig Deep, this two-part follow-up focuses on visual and contextual exploration of selected works of art in VMFA’s permanent collection.Through a variety of facilitated, in-gallery activities, as well as group interaction and conversation, participants “dissect” works in VMFA’s collection and learn new ways to connect with art.
Tradition and Innovation: The Contemporary Native American Arts 
Dr. F. Johanna Minich, Adjunct Professor of Art History, University of Mary Washington
This course begins with an introduction to the impact of European culture on indigenous art forms—and how museums, critics, and art historians respond to this “non-Western” tradition. It then goes on to examine some of the major Native North American artists—Norval Morrisseau, Maria Martinez, Bill Reid, Preston Singletary—and movements in the 20th and 21st centuries. As students explore objects in VMFA’s permanent collection, they discover how these artists both carry on traditions and move in new directions.
Wednesdays, Apr 30 – May 21, 1 – 4 pm | Reynolds Lecture Hall
Wednesdays, May 28 – Jun 18, 1 – 2:30 pm | Conference Suite & Galleries
Wednesdays, Jun 11 – Jul 23, 2 – 3 pm (no class on Jun 25) | Pauley Center Parlor
Thursdays, Jun 12 – 26, 6 – 8 pm | Conference Suite & Galleries
Tuesdays, Jul 8 & 15, 2 – 3 pm | Conference Suite & Galleries
Thursdays, Jul 3 – 24, 1 – 2 pm | Conference Suite & Galleries