VMFA Blog

A blog by staff and others about the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Q&A with Jeffrey Allison, Lead Developer of VMFA on the Road

Jeffrey Allison is VMFA’s manager of Statewide Programs and Exhibitions and the museum’s Paul Mellon Collection educator. He is a professional photographer who holds a BA in photography and film from Virginia Intermont College and an MFA in photography from VCU. His illustrious career in fine arts includes educational and leadership roles at various Richmond-area…

Zulu Beaded Ensembles: Materials Analysis

After the departure of beading expert Hlengi Dube, work continues on the survey of the Zulu ensemble components in order to pair the cultural and structural examination with a scientific materials study. With the insights into the importance of materials choice afforded by this consultation, I sought to characterize as many materials as possible using…

Neer and Far: Experiencing Congo Masks at VMFA

William Neer, VMFA’s curatorial assistant for exhibitions, discusses Congo Masks: Masterpieces from Central Africa, which is curated by Marc Leo Felix, director of the Congo Basin Art History Research Center in Brussels, Belgium. In its only North American venue, the exhibition at VMFA is an innovative and visually compelling display of artistry and cultures, showcasing more…

The Thickness of our lives – Q&A about Howardena Pindell with Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD, about VMFA’s current exhibition Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen. Cottom is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has spoken across the nation and the world on technology, higher education, race, gender, class, and social inequality. Her latest…

VMFA’s Artmobile: Past and Present

2018 exterior view of VMFA on the Road outside the VMFA before its inaugural tour. David Stover ©Virginia Museum of Fine Arts When VMFA’s first Artmobile opened at Maury Elementary School in Fredericksburg on October 13, 1953, it was an astounding success, attracting 5,000 visitors in its first three weeks. The entire aluminum tractor trailer,…

Chelsea HIggs Wise and Howardena Pindell

Experiencing Howardena Pindell and VMFA through the Lens of Intersectionality

Pindell’s journey presented at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is unique to the artist but not unusual. We’ve heard the tale: the impressive work ethic of a brilliant black mind, occupying double roles, only to still fall short on respect from her white colleagues as well as the white-dominant art world. Pindell worked as…

Outside the Horses Tent by Gifford Beal: Surface Topography Illustration using Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)

By Sydney Collins, Conservation Photographer; Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings; Aleyah Grimes, Meghan Mezera, and Morgan Shedd, IMLS Summer Interns As part of the “Connect to Conservation” program, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was able to host three summer interns with the generous support of the Institute…

Painting Conservation Report and Research Project conducted in anticipation of the 2017 exhibition Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

By Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings  Jean-Frédéric Bazille, The Artist’s Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris, 1867; oil on canvas, 25 ½ in x 19 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 83.4. Unlike Nicolas Poussin’s Achilles among the Daughters of Lycomedes, which contains…

Don’t be a Plunker!

French painter Henri Matisse once wrote, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” Well, it’s one thing to see them and another to be able to arrange them. So if the Matisse in you has ever wondered how to create a more refined floral display, look no further. As a lead…

Peptide analysis of a material imbedded into the abdomen and sides of this Songye Community Nkisi (VMFA 89.27)

Beneath the Surface of African Art: Leather, Bone and Blood- Proteomics in Art Conservation

By Casey Mallinckrodt, Andrew Mellon Assistant Conservator Conservators carry out technical analyses to identify materials to guide our decision-making, if treatment is required, and to predict and prevent future deterioration by ensuring that objects are handled and stored appropriately. In addition, technical information contributes to our understanding of an object within its cultural context and enhances what…