Outside Best Cafe

Expansion Fact Sheet

The expansion project is the largest in the museum’s history and enhances VMFA’s ability to serve Virginians in new ways.

When the expanded Virginia Museum of Fine Arts re-opens to the public May 1, 2010, everything about the museum will be bigger, brighter and – with free admission – more welcoming. The expansion project is the largest in the museum’s history and enhances VMFA’s ability to serve Virginians in new ways.

The expansion’s centerpiece is the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing, which provides the museum with 50 percent more special-exhibition space, as well as an array of public gathering areas. The McGlothlin Wing is linked to the museum’s existing building by the dramatic Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Atrium that serves as VMFA’s new main thoroughfare.

Museum Hours: When VMFA re-opens, it will welcome visitors every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended gallery hours until 9 p.m. on Thursdays evenings. Beginning July 1 the museum will also be open on Friday evenings until 9 p.m.

Admission: General admission is always free.

May 1, 2010: Grand Opening
Nov 2005: Groundbreaking for the expansion project
2003: VMFA unveils a master plan for the $150-million expansion and transformation of its 13-1/2-acre campus.
1985: VMFA opens its fourth addition, the West Wing, designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates of New York.
1976: As more exhibition space and visitor services are needed, VMFA adds a third addition, the North Wing, designed by Hardwicke Associates Inc., Architects, of Richmond.
1970: VMFA’s second addition, the South Wing designed by Baskervill & Son Architects of Richmond, is completed.
1954: VMFA’s first addition, built by Merrill C. Lee, Architects, of Richmond is completed.
1936: VMFA opens as the first U.S. art museum to be chartered by a state.
1932: Judge John Barton Payne, a prominent Virginian who held high offices in law and national politics, proposes a $100,000 challenge grant to build a museum for Virginia’s art collection.
1919: Judge John Barton Payne donates his entire collection of 50 paintings to the Commonwealth. Gifts of art to the state from other donors soon followed.

The expansion adds more than 165,000 square feet of new space to the pre-existing 380,000 square-foot building. The expansion adds 53,500 square feet of gallery space to the 80,000 square feet of pre-existing gallery space. The museum’s buildings occupy a 13½-acre campus.

James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing
Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Atrium
E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden
Mary Morton Parsons Plaza on the Boulevard
Parking deck for 600 vehicles

James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing Key Elements

The Cochrane Atrium – A three-story “main street” spanned by five bridges connects the new building to two existing wings.

The east window – A 40-foot-high glass wall overlooking North Boulevard, visually connects the building with the urban fabric of Richmond. The east window signals the purpose of the building by showcasing works of art and revealing activity within the museum.

A glass beacon – Created by enclosing the stairwell on the north façade from the ground floor to Level 4, the beacon glows softly at night, drawing attention to the entrance.

The five levels of the McGlothlin Wing

Lower Level: A 12,000-square-foot gallery space for special exhibitions was designed to accommodate as many as three exhibitions at a time and includes a 150-seat lecture hall. With 15-foot-high ceilings, 40-foot-wide spans, timber flooring and track lighting, the galleries will accommodate all genres of art.

Level 1 (main entrance level): A two-story main entrance leads into the three-story Cochrane Atrium, an interior space designed as a hub for congregation and circulation, where the new building fuses with the old.

Level 2 (main gallery level): American art and 21st-century art are presented in 13-foot-high galleries. Five bridges, four on the west overlooking the sculpture garden and one on the east overlooking the Boulevard, span the atrium and extend the main circulation paths through the entire museum. At the northern end of these paths, large windows overlook Parsons Plaza, while the southern end also terminates with windows, providing abundant daylight.

Level 3 (upper gallery level): Another path leads from the new permanent-collection galleries for South Asian art to the upper levels of the Lewis collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco and the Mellon collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art. (This level also features a new art conservation facility, a board room, and a restaurant.)

Level 4: Space is provided for the director’s office, curatorial offices and the mechanical plant.

Also in the McGlothlin Wing

The Art Education Center (Level 1): The 4,000-square-foot art education center on the museum’s main floor features an entrance from the atrium and the new plaza, an orientation room, two art studios and a new gallery for exhibitions geared to young audiences

The Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library (Level 1): Ensuring its accessibility to the public, the new Freeman Library will be 60 percent larger than VMFA’s former library. In its 143,500 volumes, the library provides significant resources for the study of the history, criticism and theory of art.

The Best Café (Level 1): A great place for casual dining, with a coffee bar

The VMFA Shop (Level 1): The shop features a delightful selection of books, specialty products and art-inspired gifts and accessories, some of which have been developed from VMFA’s collections

Amuse Restaurant (Level 3): The restaurant provides fine dining overlooking the Robins Sculpture Garden and features an innovative menu and fresh, local ingredients.

The Conservation Center (Level 3): At 9,500 square feet, the new conservation studios for paintings, sculpture and decorative arts are nearly three times the size of VMFA’s previous conservation spaces. The Conservation Center enjoys ample northern light from windows and skylights.

E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden
The 3-1/2-acre, gently sloping Robins Sculpture Garden presents outdoor works from the VMFA collection as well as changing exhibitions. The garden will feature shade and ornamental trees, richly planted perennials, and reflecting pools at the upper and lower levels connected by a water stair descending a slope. The Robins Sculpture Garden partly covers the new parking deck.

Mary Morton Parsons Plaza on the Boulevard
With asphalt-block paving and granite sidewalks, the open space of the new Parsons Plaza brings the McGlothlin Wing, the Robins Sculpture Garden, and the circa-1850s Robinson House into a dramatic visual relationship.

Meeting & Event Space
VMFA will continue to host wedding receptions, private parties and corporate events in flexible event space throughout the campus.

Rick Mather + SMBW
London-based American architect Rick Mather formed a partnership with the Richmond-based firm SMBW Architects for VMFA’s expansion. This is Mather’s first U.S. commission.

Olin Partnership, Philadelphia

Hankins and Anderson Consulting Engineers, Richmond
Atelier Ten, Environmental and Building Services Engineers, London and New York
Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners, London and New York

Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Richmond

L’Observatoire, New York

M. Goodwin Associates Inc. and Randall Stout Architects Inc., Los Angeles