VMFA Blog

A blog by staff and others about the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Neer and Far: Experiencing Congo Masks at VMFA

William Neer, VMFA’s curatorial assistant for exhibitions, discusses Congo Masks: Masterpieces from Central Africa, which is curated by Marc Leo Felix, director of the Congo Basin Art History Research Center in Brussels, Belgium. In its only North American venue, the exhibition at VMFA is an innovative and visually compelling display of artistry and cultures, showcasing more…

The Thickness of our lives – Q&A about Howardena Pindell with Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD, about VMFA’s current exhibition Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen. Cottom is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has spoken across the nation and the world on technology, higher education, race, gender, class, and social inequality. Her latest…

VMFA’s Artmobile: Past and Present

2018 exterior view of VMFA on the Road outside the VMFA before its inaugural tour. David Stover ©Virginia Museum of Fine Arts When VMFA’s first Artmobile opened at Maury Elementary School in Fredericksburg on October 13, 1953, it was an astounding success, attracting 5,000 visitors in its first three weeks. The entire aluminum tractor trailer,…

Outside the Horses Tent by Gifford Beal: Surface Topography Illustration using Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)

By Sydney Collins, Conservation Photographer; Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings; Aleyah Grimes, Meghan Mezera, and Morgan Shedd, IMLS Summer Interns As part of the “Connect to Conservation” program, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was able to host three summer interns with the generous support of the Institute…

Painting Conservation Report and Research Project conducted in anticipation of the 2017 exhibition Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of Impressionism at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

By Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings  Jean-Frédéric Bazille, The Artist’s Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris, 1867; oil on canvas, 25 ½ in x 19 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 83.4. Unlike Nicolas Poussin’s Achilles among the Daughters of Lycomedes, which contains…

Don’t be a Plunker!

French painter Henri Matisse once wrote, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” Well, it’s one thing to see them and another to be able to arrange them. So if the Matisse in you has ever wondered how to create a more refined floral display, look no further. As a lead…

Peptide analysis of a material imbedded into the abdomen and sides of this Songye Community Nkisi (VMFA 89.27)

Beneath the Surface of African Art: Leather, Bone and Blood- Proteomics in Art Conservation

By Casey Mallinckrodt, Andrew Mellon Assistant Conservator Conservators carry out technical analyses to identify materials to guide our decision-making, if treatment is required, and to predict and prevent future deterioration by ensuring that objects are handled and stored appropriately. In addition, technical information contributes to our understanding of an object within its cultural context and enhances what…

Q&A: Celebrate the Art of Latin America: Patagonia

In anticipation of VMFA’s next Family Day, which takes place Saturday, September 15, we sat down with Ana Ines King, artistic director for the Latin Ballet of Virginia, to discuss its  involvement in the recurring event. This Family Day, titled Celebrate the Art of Latin America, focuses on the region of Patagonia and includes performances…

How the Authenticity Question Surrounding Achilles Among the Daughters of Lycomedes, a Painting by Nicolas Poussin, was Resolved

By Carol Sawyer, Margaret H. & William E. Massey Sr. Conservator of Paintings The Painting Conservation Department performs treatments, examinations and research related to the VMFA painting collection. In the course of doing this work questions regarding the authenticity of a work of art sometimes arise. Technical analysis and in-depth examination of the materials and…