The Forbidden City in Beijing, China

Special Exhibitions & Gallery Installations

Special Exhibitions

Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures from the Palace Museum, Beijing
October 18, 2014 – January 11, 2015
Ticketed, VMFA members free
Accompanying catalogue

This landmark exhibition will feature more than 180 works of art from the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (“The Forbidden City”). The largest art museum in China and the largest palace in the world, it is located in the center of Beijing within the ancient Imperial Palace, where 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties resided from 1420 until 1924, when the last emperor was expelled. The Palace Museum was established in 1925 and holds more than 1.8 million works of art and artifacts. The exhibition is part of a groundbreaking multi-year collaboration between VMFA and the Palace Museum. The exhibition will offer a broad perspective on Imperial China during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties with a focus on the 17th and 18th centuries. Featured works—ranging from portraits of emperors and empresses, court paintings, religious sculpture, and ritual objects to fine ceramics, bronzes, lacquerware, jade, costumes, textiles, and furniture—will be combined with 3-D printing technology and architectural features to offer visitors an immersive experience, as if passing through the Forbidden City during the height of its glory and splendor. Forbidden City is presented by Altria Group and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. Curated by Li Jian, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of East Asian Art.

Fine Arts and Flowers

November 5-9, 2014

Flowers and fine art unite for an exhibition of beauty and creativity. Floral designers from more than 50 garden club chapters across Virginia interpret masterworks in VMFA’s collection with floral arrangements throughout the galleries. Lectures by prominent floral arrangers, an evening gala, lunches, Sunday brunch in bloom, a fashion show, floral tea, hands-on flower arranging workshop, and other events will take place throughout the four-day exhibition.

Water and Shadow: Kawase Hasui and Japanese Landscape Prints

November 15, 2014 – March 29, 2015
Accompanying catalogue

Woodblock prints by Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) poignantly reveal the beauty of Japan’s landscape. These tranquil and dreamlike works evoke nostalgia and longing, exploring the search for individual and national identity in Japan during the early Taisho period (1912-1926), an era of rapid social and cultural change. The exhibition features over 100 works by Hasui, including three exceptional and rare painted screens. In addition, five prints by his contemporaries – including Japanese landscape masters Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) – reveal how the artist appropriated and reinterpreted earlier and modern styles of printmaking. Water and Shadow includes 74 works from VMFA’s extensive collection of Hasui prints donated by René and Carolyn Balcer, complemented by loans from private collectors in New York and Washington, DC. Organized by VMFA and curated by Dr. Kendall Brown, Professor of Asian Art History at California State University, Long Beach, the exhibition is accompanied by a 228-page, full-color catalogue.

Miwako Nishizawa: Twelve Views of Virginia

November 15, 2014 – March 29, 2015

Miwako Nishizawa is a California-based Japanese artist specializing in the traditional shin-hanga Japanese woodblock technique that revitalized the ukiyo-e tradition in early 20th century Japan. As a complement to the VMFA exhibition of artist Kawase Hasui, collectors René and Carolyn Balcer commissioned Nishizawa to execute Twelve Views of Virginia in the shin-hanga style. This focus exhibition features artist proofs from Nishizawa’s series. Prints from the series will be available for purchase in the Museum Shop.

Fusion: Art of the 21st-Century
Opening December 19, 2014

Showing works by an increasingly diverse roster of global artists, VMFA’s 21st-century gallery reflects the expanded nature of contemporary art. The next exhibition, titled Fusion, builds on this focus. It emphasizes new acquisitions—many on view for the first time—and includes a substantial number of works by African and African-American artists and works from Latin American, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Curated by John B. Ravenal, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower

March 21 – June 21, 2015
Ticketed, VMFA members free
Accompanying catalogue

This exhibition reveals how the traditional genre of still-life painting was re-invented by 19th-century painters, even as the art world was radically transformed by the advent of modernism. The title, taken from an 1888 letter of Vincent van Gogh, suggests the commitment shared by many of van Gogh’s contemporaries to flowers as both a subject and a source of painterly meditation. Well-known artists such as Eugene Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Henri Fantin-Latour, Edouard Manet, and Paul Cezanne – as well as less-familiar names such as Gerard van Spaendonck, Antoine Berjon, and Simon Saint-Jean – engaged in a sophisticated reworking of traditional imagery, bringing the floral still life into dialogue with emerging models of science and commerce. In the process, they transformed the genre into a reflection on the nature of artistic representation itself. Organized by VMFA and the Dallas Museum of Art, the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue will be the first scholarly treatment of this important subject.

Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse will feature major loans from institutional members of FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange) as well as other important public and private collections. Following its premier at Dallas, the exhibition will travel to VMFA and one other venue. Co-curated by Dr. Mitchell Merling, VMFA’s Paul Mellon Curator and Head of European Art, and Dr. Heather MacDonald, Dallas Museum of Art’s Associate Curator of European Art.
Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World
May 23 – September 27, 2015

Organized by the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, Perseverance focuses on the work of seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists – Horitaka, Horitomo, Horishiki, Miyazo, Shige, Junii, and Yokohama Horiken – inspired by the Japanese tradition of tattooing and heavily influenced by the traditional Japanese arts of calligraphy and ukiyo-e woodblock printmaking. Specially commissioned photographs of work by each artist will be displayed alongside tools and relief carvings, as well as a re-created Shinto shrine. A companion book of the same title features additional photographs and writings, and is published by the Japanese American National Museum.

December 12, 2015 – April 3, 2016
Ticketed, VMFA members free
Accompanying catalogue

Organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée Rodin in Paris, this exhibition will feature over 200 works by the greatest sculptor of the 19th and early 20th centuries: Auguste Rodin.

Revealing the evolving output of this genius of sculpture, the exhibition examines his techniques, materials, models and assistants, and explores the extraordinary working process behind some of his best known works. Auguste Rodin completely revitalized the very language of sculpture with his passion for the creative act. Fragile plasters as well as patinated bronzes, marble figures, astonishing ceramics and never-before-exhibited photographs all attest to this creative intensity, with much of the work presented in North America for the first time. Rodin is organized for VMFA by Dr. Mitchell Merling, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of European Art. The exhibition catalogue, with contributions on Rodin’s process by leading scholars, will be published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Ongoing Special Exhibitions

Artists as Art: Photographic Portraits
Through March 22, 2015
Photography Gallery

Robert Frank photographs Beat poet Allen Ginsberg hugging a tree. Imogen Cunningham poses Alfred Stieglitz standing in front of a flower painting by Georgia O’Keeffe. Barbara Morgan captures modern dancer Martha Graham as she stretches her body into a dramatic form. These images convey more than a mere likeness of the artists portrayed. Instead they highlight the collaboration between photographer and subject when both are artists seeking to convey a unique persona. This exhibition features photographic portraits of fine artists, writers, and performers taken throughout the 20th century. From the softly focused, romantic images the Pictorialists made in the early 1900s to the casual color polaroids Andy Warhol took of the celebrities around him in the early 1970s, these works also trace the evolving styles and functions of photography as it documented artistic movements and increasingly served as a primary artistic medium in itself. Curated by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

THE GREAT WAR: Printmakers of World War I
Through November 11, 2014

This exhibition marks the centenary of the commencement of World War I on July 28, 1914. Rather than presenting a chronology of events, this exhibition focuses on how artists—many of whom witnessed combat firsthand as official ative experiences particular to this global conflict. The European and American printmakers included here created an invaluable visual record of the war as conducted on the frontlines and the mobilized home front. All of the prints come from the Frank Raysor collection, a promised gift to VMFA. Curated by Dr. Mitchell Merling, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of European Art.

Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit

Through November 9, 2014

Ryan McGinness’s creative process for his 2009 painting Art History Is Not Linear (VMFA) is the focus of this inventive exhibition. Commissioned by VMFA, the artist’s 16-panel painting contains 200 icons inspired by works from the museum’s collection. A three-part exhibition, the first gallery provides a glimpse of McGinness’ studio practice, the second displays a selection of the objects McGinness chose from the museum’s collection alongside his sketches and final image, and the last portion features early works the artist made while growing up in Virginia Beach. The exhibition promises to engage a wide audience, and an exciting array of education programs will encourage young viewers to seek out favorite works in the collection and actively participate in their own process of exploration and interpretation. Curated by John B. Ravenal, Sydney and Frances Lewis Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

States of Change in Africa

Through December 31, 2014
Free admission

Two recently acquired works in the African collection provide insight into far-reaching social and economic changes associated with the independence movement that swept across Africa during the 1950s and 1960s, bringing an end to European colonialism officially, if not in reality. The upbeat Barber’s Sign from Ghana, infused with the optimism of the new era, suggests modern hairstyles for fashionable personal identity, while celebrating the name Ghana along with the red, yellow, green, and black state colors the new nation adopted after declaring autonomy from Britain in 1957. Revealing another aspect of the transition, the haunting photo montage, Untitled 21, from the suite Mémoire, by Congolese artist, Sammy Baloji investigates the impact of industrial development in the Belgian Congo during the colonial era and its demise after independence in 1960. In this focus installation, both the sign and the photo montage are presented with related works to portray the historic context more broadly and cast a sharper focus on the nature of the changes in society and art that have played out in Africa during the second half of the 20th century. Curated by Richard B. Woodward, Curator of African Art.

Beyond the Walls

Through June 2015
The Memorial Foundation for Children Teaching Gallery, located in the MeadWestvaco Art Education Center, transformed into an interactive exhibition where visitors can explore daily life in imperial China. In contrast to the world of the emperor on display in Forbidden City, this hands-on exhibition will provide a glimpse into the home of a merchant-class family who lived in the 17th-18th centuries. Visitors will be able to interact through activities that include writing Chinese characters on a touch screen and designing personal seals. There will also be opportunities to unroll and view reproduction scrolls, like those featured in Forbidden City and in VMFA’s East Asian collection, or play traditional musical instruments and games. Whether visiting as part of a school group, or a multigenerational family, the Teaching Gallery exhibition will offer visitors of all ages a new perspective on China’s imperial past.

Collections and Gallery Installations

Permanent Collection on Tour: Fabergé
VMFA’s Fabergé Gallery is closed while the acclaimed collection is on tour, however the Imperial Rock Crystal Easter Egg and some additional objects by Faberge have been installed in the Vaulted Hall adjacent to the Marble Hall. The majority of VMFA’s world-renowned collection Faberge collection is on international tour. Current venue: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Quebec (through October 5, 2014)

Upcoming venues: Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Las Vegas, Nevada: November 15, 2014 – May 25, 2015; Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: June 20 – September 27, 2015; The Palace Museum, Beijing, China: April 16 – July 17, 2016.

Truland Foundation Media Resource Room
Visitors to the Sydney and Frances Lewis Mid to Late-20th Century Galleries will discover a newly outfitted space designed to bring the artists featured in our Modern and Contemporary collections to life. Equipped with selections of VMFA catalogues and a video kiosk, the Truland Foundation Media Resource Room is a place to discover the stories behind some of the most popular holdings in these collections. Listen to artist interviews – with Chuck Close, Bill Viola, Sally Mann, Sol LeWitt, and many others – using the touch screen monitors and deepen your understanding of the artistic process. The space and kiosk were a gift of former VMFA trustee and President of the Truland Group, Robert W. Truland, and his family. VMFA’s Canvas membership group donated funds to help support the artist interviews.

VMFA MeadWestvaco Art Education Center Exhibitions
Beyond the Walls, through June 2015
Teen Stylin’: Forbidden,November 14th, 2014 – January 28th, 2015
VMFA Docent Art Show,February 19th – March 29th, 2015
Student Art Show, April 15th – August 30th, 2015
Early Childhood Education Art Show, September 14th – November 1st, 2015
Teen Stylin’, November 2015, Dates TBD

VMFA Studio School Exhibitions
Studio School Faculty Exhibitions, through October 17, 2014
Recent Paintings, October 24, 2014 – January 9, 2015
Dreams, Imagination and Desire, February 2 – 27, 2015
Beginning, Middle and Beyond: Recent Photographs, March 6 – April 10, 2015
Recent Paintings (works by students of Joan Elliott), April 17 – May 22, 2015
The Alchemy of Pots & Prints: Number 10, June 1 – August 21, 2015

VMFA Pauley Center Exhibitions
Coolly Cool: Pastels by Steve Bernard, through February 16, 2015

Amuse Restaurant & Claiborne Robertson Room Exhibitions
Insist/Resist by Sarah Yoder, through February 8, 2015

VMFA Statewide Exhibitions
Ryan McGinness: Studio Visit
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Virginia Beach, January 30 – April 19, 2015

Civil War Redux: Pinhole Photographs by Willie Anne Wright
Jacksonville Center for the Arts, Floyd, Va., through September 27, 2014
Northern Virginia Community College, Sterling, Va., January 5 – February 6, 2015
Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History, Danville, Va., March 20 – May 16, 2015

Wealth beyond Measure: Arts of Africa’s Akan and Kuba Kingdoms from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
William King Museum of Art, Abingdon, Va., March 27 – July 12, 2015

VMFA at Richmond International Airport
Susan Sterner: Photographs from El Salvador and Brazil, through January 4, 2015
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About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
VMFA’s permanent collection encompasses more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Its collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, English silver, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia are among the finest in the nation. With acclaimed holdings in American, British Sporting, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, and Modern and Contemporary—and additional strengths in African, Ancient, East Asian, and European—VMFA ranks as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. Programs include educational activities and studio classes for all ages, plus lively after-hours events. VMFA’s Statewide program features traveling exhibitions, artist and teacher workshops, and lectures across the Commonwealth. VMFA is open 365 days a year and general admission is always free. For additional information, telephone 804-340-1400 or

NOTE: Exhibitions are subject to change. General admission to VMFA permanent collections is always free. Some special exhibitions require an admission fee, and members receive free admission to all ticketed exhibitions, as noted in each description.