Drawing of VMFA

E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden Fact Sheet


The 3½-acre E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden will be the heart of the museum’s campus when the VMFA expansion project is completed. The garden will include art, leisurely walkways, water features, stately trees, and flowers. The garden will partially cover a new and innovative 600-car parking deck tucked beneath a terraced, landscaped slope designed for sculpture display. The garden, which will replace a surface-parking lot, will bring part of the museum’s excellent collection and programming outside and provide memorable experiences of public art in a new environment of changing light, climate and seasons.

Other landscape features of the VMFA campus will include an entrance plaza, providing easy museum access to pedestrians, motorists and buses. The plaza will offer ample drop-off space for visitors near the entrance and access to the adjacent parking deck. A special entrance for schoolchildren arriving by bus provides direct access to the museum and to the Art Education Center. Bus parking will be adjacent to the parking deck. Ramps from all levels of the parking deck to the entrance will provide direct access to the museum.

Phase 1: The Robins Sculpture Garden and other landscape elements of the campus will be completed in two phases. Phase 1, which includes the entrance plaza and the northern end of the Robins Sculpture Garden near the new VMFA entrance, is scheduled to open in May 2010 in tandem with the Grand Opening of the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing. About a dozen works from the VMFA permanent collection and a small number of long-term loans will be installed in the sculpture garden. Installation of sculpture is expected to begin in the spring of 2010.

In July 2010, a series of exhibitions will begin, featuring international, national and regional artists as a key focus of the garden.

Phase 2: Phase 2 is scheduled for completion later in 2010 or early 2011. Phase 2 is the portion of the Robins Sculpture Garden to the south, near the present temporary entrance to the museum. Phase 2 construction will begin in May 2010 when the new museum entrance opens and the temporary entrance can be closed.

The VMFA Collection

The VMFA permanent collection includes approximately a dozen large-scale works suitable for outdoor display (see listing below). Many – along with works lent by other museums and artists’ estates – will be installed for Phase 1. These outdoor works span half a century, from the 1930s to the 1980s. They represent a broad range of movements and styles and include examples by some of the best-known sculptors of the period, such as Henry Moore, Aristide Maillol and Arnaldo Pomodoro.


The first temporary exhibition in the garden will feature colossal sculpture by master ceramicist Jun Kaneko (born 1942). His works will be displayed in the center of the garden. Kaneko is an internationally renowned Japanese-American artist based in Omaha, Neb. He is designing an installation that will include one of his monumental heads – 8.5 feet tall and weighing three tons – reminiscent of figures found on Easter Island, and at least 8 of his dangos, which are slender, 9-foot-tall, totem-like forms. Kaneko’s works have been chosen for the inaugural exhibition for their sensational physical presence and stunning beauty. They also make fascinating connections to the history of monumental public sculpture, to ancient Shinto concepts, to traditional ceramic techniques, and to industrial manufacturing processes. The exhibition will be on display for approximately six months.

By bringing sculpture and programs outdoors, VMFA will have a fresh opportunity to make art immediately visible, accessible, inviting and inspiring, helping to beautify and enliven part of the city’s Museum District and raising awareness and appreciation of outdoor sculpture.

Olin Partnership served as landscape architecture consultant to Rick Mather + SMBW for the site design and the Robins Sculpture Garden. Daniel & Co. is the contractor.


Among works from the VMFA permanent collection under consideration for exhibition in the Robins Sculpture Garden:

Arman (Armand Fernandez)
French, 1928-2005
Captain Nemo’s Accumulation

Bryan Hunt
American, born 1947
Conductor, 1982

Anna Hyatt Huntington
American, 1876-1973
Fawns Playing, 1936

Seymour Lipton
American, 1903-1986
Oracle, 1966

Aristide Maillol
French, 1861-1944
La Riviere, 1938-43

Oronzio Maldarelli
American, 1892-1963
Bianca, No. 2, 1951

Carl Milles
Swedish, 1875-1955, active in the United States
Small Triton Fountain, 1916

Henry Moore
English, 1898-1986
Reclining Figure (Exterior Form), 1953-54

Henry Moore
English, 1898-1986
Working Model for Locking Piece, 1962

Arnaldo Pomodoro
Italian, born 1926
Rotating Sphere, 1968-69

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
American, 1875-1942
Daphne, 1933