Art History Classes

VMFA Art History Classes provide adult audiences with the opportunity to investigate the history of art through dynamic and interactive lectures, gallery visits and discussions. For ages 16 and over.


[64] Containing Customs

Tue, Mar 21, 28, & Apr 4, 11, 1–2 pm (4 sessions) | Conference Suite or Reynolds Lecture Hall
Dr. Susan Glasser, Secretary, Public Art Commission

Some of the smallest objects in the VMFA collection have big stories to tell. Exquisite containers were designed to store precious and common items alike. But perhaps their most valuable content today is what they reveal about the once-prevalent customs of private lives. From pets to scents to unsavory fads, this class unpacks the contents of the museum’s most diminutive works of art to reveal the stories they contain.

$60 (VMFA members $55)


[65] Understanding Buddhist Art

Thu, Apr 6, 13, 20, 27, 11–12:30 pm (4 sessions) | Conference Suite or Reynolds Lecture Hall
Dr. Ariana Maki, Associate Director, Tibet Center and Bhutan Initiative, University of Virginia

At Buddhism’s heart is Buddha Shakyamuni (ca. 5th century BC), whose life provided followers with a template to successfully transcend the cycle of death and rebirth. In the centuries since his par nirvana, artists have given material form to the Buddha’s travels and teachings. Through a combination of lectures and firsthand examination of works in VMFA’s galleries, our sessions will enable learners to identify key characteristics of Buddhist art, under-stand how Buddhist art changed as it moved beyond South Asia, and discern the meanings and motivations behind its creation.

$90 (VMFA members $75)


[66] Gothic: The Architecture and Art of Light

Wed, Apr 12, 19, 26; May 3, 10, 17, 2–3 pm (6 sessions) | Conference Suite or Reynolds Lecture Hall
Dr. Donald Schrader, Adjunct Professor of Art History, University of Mary Washington

The Italians first used the term ‘Gothic’ in the 16th century as a way to dismiss an art form as “uncouth” and of foreign origins. However, the Gothic is in fact an artistic movement of unequaled accomplishment and originality, whose primary goal was to employ light as an expression of divine grace. This course traces Gothic architecture and art from its origins in Paris to its spread throughout France and Europe and examines early cathedrals, the climax of 13th-century churches in Amiens and Reims, and the adoption of the new style and the forms it took in England, Central Europe, and Italy. The class also explores the visual arts that completed these grand monuments.

$90 (VMFA members $75)