Talks + Lectures

Get tickets on-site, online, or by phone at 804.340.1405.

An Imperial Imagination

Thu, Oct 30, 6:30 – 7:30 pm | Leslie Cheek Theater
Join Dr. Nancy Berliner, Wu Tung Curator of Chinese Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, for a talk that explores the Forbidden City's Qianlong Garden. Designed inside and out by the Qianlong Emperor, the garden contains 26 buildings and pavilions, and is a thrilling manifestation of this emperor's visual imagination. 

One of the world's greatest art connoisseurs, the 18th century Qianlong Emperor collected a myriad of ancient masterpieces but also relished his privileged opportunity to work with the finest artists and artisans to design and create all manner of inspired objects. With a deep knowledge of Chinese artistic traditions and a hungry interest in European aesthetics and styles, he and his workers produced extraordinary porcelains, trompe-l'oeil murals, and fantastical garden estates, the likes of which had never before been seen in China.

$8 (VMFA members $5)

3 in 30: China and Silver: Content and Form

Tue, Nov 4, 11 – 11:30 am, or Nov 6, 6:30 – 7 pm | Meet at Visitor Services Desk
Discover the details that uncover the Chinese roots of select works from the Gans Collection of English Silver with Join Celeste Fetta, Chief Educator.

In upcoming months, we will offer a series of permanent collection gallery talks ispired by the special exhibition Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing. Visit Talks for more details.
Free, no registration required
These talks do not include admission to Forbidden City.

Paul Mellon Lecture: Degas/Cassatt: The Art of Collaboration

Thu, Nov 13, 6:30 – 7:30 pm | Leslie Cheek Theater
With Kimberly Jones, Associate Curator of French Paintings at the National Gallery of Art

Edgar Degas’s influence upon Mary Cassatt has long been acknowledged, but in this talk, Kimberly Jones examines the American artist’s role in shaping Degas’s artistic production and her actions to pave the way for his warm reception in America. These two major figures of the impressionist movement shared a keen observer’s eye, as well as an openness to experimentation. Despite differences of gender and nationality, they built a deep friendship based on mutual respect and admiration for each other’s talents. 

Free, tickets required

Twelve Views of Virginia

Fri, Nov 14, 3 – 4 pm | Works on Paper Gallery 
We are celebrating the opening weekend of the exhibition Water and Shadow: Kawase Hasui and the Japanese Landscape Prints with several events.

Join Japanese artist Miwako Nishizawa as she discusses her Twelve Views of Virginia print project on display in the VMFA galleries. This multi-year project was commissioned by collectors Rene and Carolyn Balcer and includes images of many notable sites around the State of Virginia, including Monticello in Charlottesville, Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Natural Bridge, and Colonial Williamsburg.
Free, no registration required

Kawase Hasui and the Power of Landscape

Fri, Nov 14, Lecture: 6 – 7 pm, Catalog signing: 7 – 7:30 pm | Leslie Cheek Theater
We are celebrating the opening weekend of the exhibitionWater and Shadow: Kawase Hasui and the Japanese Landscape Prints with several events. 

Why is Hasui so popular? In this this lecture, Dr. Ken Brown, Professor of Asian Art History at California State University, Long Beach, will answer that question as he explores how this artist’s works fulfill fundamental aspects of human interest in landscape. Brown will also look at how Hasui’s dynamic balance of light and darkness, clarity and uncertainty, prospect and refuge connect to our brain’s desire for “moderate complexity” in the physical world.

$8 (VMFA members $5)

Hanako's Teahouse

Sun, Nov 16, 2 – 3 pm | Marble Hall
We are celebrating the opening weekend of the exhibition, Water and Shadow: Kawase Hasui and the Japanese Landscape Prints with several events.

Join us Sunday for special program with artist Hanako Miwa. She will perform tea ceremonies with her special tea objects and her portable Teahouse. The Japanese tea ceremony is a way of communication and a way to appreciate arts while enjoying tea.
Free, no registration required

Book Club: King Leopold's Ghost

Thu, Nov 20, 5:30 – 7 pm | Conference Room 1
In the 1880s, King Leopold of Belgium took possession of the unexplored Congo River area in Africa. He then proceeded to exploit its natural resources and its people. Ultimately responsible for millions of deaths, he shrewdly managed to portray himself as a humanitarian. This haunting and award-winning historical account by Adam Hochschild not only recounts this horrible tragedy, but also tells the story of those who tried to stop him. In the first major human rights movement of the 20th century, many people tried to expose the truth even Mark Twain and Joseph Conrad, who was inspired to write Heart of Darkness after his time in the Belgian Congo.
$8 (VMFA members $5)

How to Read Chinese Paintings

Thu, Dec 4, 6:30 – 7:30 pm | Leslie Cheek Theater

The Chinese way of appreciating a painting is often expressed by the words du hua, which means “to read a painting.” How does one do that? Because art is a visual language, words alone cannot adequately convey its expressive dimension. Spanning 1,000 years of Chinese art — from the eighth through the seventeenth centuries, Maxwell K. Hearn, Douglas Dillon Chairman Department of Asian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, examines multiple layers of meaning, including style, technique, symbolism, past traditions, and the artist’s personal circumstances, in the treatment of landscapes, flowers, birds, figures, religious subjects, and calligraphies. This lecture illuminates the main goal of every Chinese artist: to capture not only the outer appearance of a subject but also its inner essence.

$8 (VMFA members $5)