VMFA Blog

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

A child enjoying family day

Q&A: Celebrate African and African American Art: Ethiopia

In preparation for the upcoming VMFA Family Day event on Saturday, June 16, Natalie Feister, the museum’s Youth and Family Programs and Events Coordinator, answered a few questions about its Ethiopia theme and festivities, which include music and dance performances, vivid storytelling, and the opportunity to participate in collaborative projects such as a Community Independence…

Dr. Colleen Yarger Standing in front of a Painting of Napoleon

Insights into Napoleon: Power and Splendor with Dr. Colleen Yarger

In Napoleon: Power and Splendor at VMFA, more than 200 exquisite works of art include major masterpieces of paintings, decorative arts, sculptures, and engravings, many of which are on view in the United States for the first time. The innovative exhibition offers an up-close encounter with the propaganda machine that modernized and legitimized the reign…

A view of the Portugal Gallery

VMFA Celebrates the Month of Portugal

This June, VMFA joins a long list of cultural venues across the United States in celebrating the Month of Portugal with its special exhibition, Contemporary Art from Portugal. Organized in collaboration with the Lisbon-based Fundação Luso-Americana (Luso-American Development Foundation), the exhibition features works by six contemporary Portuguese artists. The exhibition is on display in the…

Beneath the Surface of African Art: The Importance of Wood Identification

By Casey Mallinckrodt, Assistant Conservator The conservation initiative in African art funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation is allowing the VMFA Conservation Center to deepen capacity by acquiring analytic equipment, engaging specialist consultants, and also by developing specialized expertise within the Conservation staff. This winter Assistant Conservator Casey Mallinckrodt participated in an intensive course…

Inside VMFA: Ray Vasquez

Inside VMFA: Ray Vasquez

From behind the scenes, electrician Ray Vasquez shines a light on VMFA’s artwork. “I like my job here because I like to see all the different cultures that come here and all the different exhibits that the museum brings,” he says.

South African Artist Esther Mahlangu Awarded Honorary Doctorate by the University of Johannesburg

Esther Mahlangu, whose dazzling, mural-size paintings provide a gateway to the VMFA African art galleries, has just been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg for “her legacy as a cultural entrepreneur and educator, skillfully negotiating local and global worlds.” Dr. Mahlangu, the most renowned artist of South Africa’s Ndebele people, developed the…

Q&A with Dr. Peter Schertz, VMFA Jack and Mary Ann Frable Curator of Ancient Art

In the first exhibition of ancient art in nearly 25 years, VMFA presents The Horse in Ancient Greek Art, an exploration of the Greeks’ fascination with an animal that served as a symbol of wealth, power, and status. Dr. Peter Schertz, Jack and Mary Ann Frable Curator of Ancient Art, shares some insights into the…

drilling demonstration

Beneath the Surface of African Art: Thermoluminescence Sampling of Terracotta Sculptures from Africa

To test terracotta using TL dating, conservators take a powdered sample from an unobtrusive area of the object using a high-speed drill. Due to the fragile nature of these objects and the risk of causing damage through improper technique, only an experienced conservator or trained sampling agent should collect the sample. We reached out to…