Picasso Exhibition Generated Nearly $30 Million for Virginia

Nearly a quarter million visited VMFA

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ landmark exhibition Picasso:  Masterpieces from the Musée Picasso, Paris brought more than just visitors to the Commonwealth.  The exhibition brought $26.6 million to the Richmond region and a further $2.3 million across Virginia, totaling nearly $30 million.

Combining the exhibition’s staging expenses with visitor spending from nearly a quarter million visitors, the economic study showed primary and secondary benefits to the region and the state.

“The Picasso exhibition was not only a blockbuster for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, but for all  of Virginia as well,” Director Alex Nyerges said.  “The ripple effect impacted hotels, restaurants and the overall tourism industry, subsequently benefiting the region. The arts are an important catalyst for tourism and we will continue to initiate ‘can’t miss’ exhibitions and programs at the museum.”

As the exclusive East Coast venue of the international exhibition, Richmond attracted visitors from every state in the United States. The total spending was distributed among food, lodging, transportation and retail localities.  As a result, an estimated 297 jobs in Richmond and 329 jobs in Virginia were supported.  State and local governments also benefited, with more than $250,000 in local tax revenue and almost $750,000 in state tax revenue, for a total of more than $1 million dollars of total tax revenue from the exhibition.

In addition to visitor spending, VMFA’s membership grew.  New members from January – mid-May brought in $1.1 million in membership fees. Membership numbers topped 40,000 as of the close of the exhibition.  “We have provided some enticing benefits for membership, including free admission to special exhibitions, member previews, discounts on classes and lectures and free parking in the deck,” Nyerges said.  “In addition, a special reciprocal membership level provides free admission to more than 400 museums throughout the United States.”

Chmura Economics & Analytics (Chmura) conducted the study, which included an intercept survey in April and May to collect information, such as visitors’ spending patterns.

About the study

Between April 29 and May 7, 2011, Chmura conducted interviews at VMFA.  A usable sample of 404 surveys was collected with a maximum statistical error of +/- 4.9 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.  Among the Virginia respondents, 58.8 percent were from the Richmond metropolitan region.  After Richmond, Virginia respondents were from northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Charlottesville.  The regions with the highest number of visitors are North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.


About the exhibition
VMFA was the only East Coast venue for the Picasso:  Masterpieces from the Musée Picasso, Paris seven-city international tour. The exhibition was on view February 19 through May 15, 2011, and was co-organized by the Musée National Picasso, Paris and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  Drawn from the collection of the Musée National Picasso in Paris, the largest and most significant repository of the artist’s work in the world, the exhibition represented works produced during every major artistic period of Pablo Picasso’s eight-decade career. It included 176 works from Picasso’s personal collection – art that he kept for himself with the purpose of shaping his own legacy. Altria Group was the presenting sponsor for the exhibition.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
With a collection of art that spans the globe and more than 5,000 years, plus a wide array of special exhibitions, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is recognized as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. The museum’s permanent collection encompasses more than 23,000 works of art, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside Russia and one of the nation’s finest collections of American Art, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. VMFA is home to acclaimed collections of English Silver and Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British Sporting and Modern & Contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan and African art. In May 2010, VMFA opened its doors to the public after a transformative expansion, the largest in its 75-year history. Programs include educational activities and studio classes for all ages, plus fun after-hours events. VMFA’s Statewide Partnership program includes traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. General admission is always free. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or visit www.vmfa.museum.