A beginner’s guide to art museums in RVA

Illustration by Ashlyn Rudolph

Iman Mekonen, Spectrum Editor

Visiting the diverse art galleries in Richmond can take you on an historical, “Magic School Bus”–like adventure into different cultures, time periods and mediums of art, without having to go far.

Richmond has a vibrant and diverse community, so it makes sense that VCU’s art school is top-ranked and has previously been named the best public arts program in the country (not to toot our own horn or anything). But some students may not know how rich the art scene in Richmond is. 

Whether you’re a freshman or upperclassman, and whether you know everything or nothing about art, this guide is for you. Included is a short list of the art galleries that contribute to the art scene and the overall Richmond experience. Take a day trip and visit one or more of the following museums.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

General admission: Free

Address: 200 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd.

Hours: Open 365 days a year, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays until 9 p.m. 

Website: vmfa.museum

This historical art gallery has a comprehensive and vast selection of different artifacts, sculptures and other forms of art from different parts of the world. One walkthrough isn’t enough to see everything the VMFA has to offer. 

Its big white walls and glass windows are reminiscent of childhood museum exploration, and it still feels this way. If any overwhelming feelings come to you while browsing the walls, there are several experts available to answer questions, give directions and provide background information on artwork. 

The museum also includes a cafe and an outdoor garden, perfect for having a picnic when the weather permits. 

VCU Institute for Contemporary Art

Admission: Free

Address: 601 W. Broad St.

Hours: Tuesdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesdays 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursday-Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Website: icavcu.org

This fairly new addition to VCU’s campus immediately sticks out with its unique geometric shape and shining silver color, greeting newcomers as soon as they enter the area. 

Created in 2018, the Institute for Contemporary Art shows national and international work to inspire students. Art students are often spotted working at the front desk and guiding visitors around the exhibits. Professors of all departments bring their students to view the works, connecting them to their own studies.

The gallery contains three levels, each with different exhibits, that take the visitor through different settings to explore and appreciate art.

With its convenient location on campus, it’s easy to visit this intimate gallery on the weekend, or even during breaks between classes. The ICA occasionally offers tours, lectures and interactive sessions on various topics. 

Visual Arts Center of Richmond 

Admission to the gallery: Free

Address: 1812 W. Main St.

Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily 

Website: visarts.org

The VisArts Center stands in Richmond’s historic Fan District, and serves as a hub for art classes, exhibitions, writing classes and summer camps.

The red brick building connects the people of Richmond to art by offering classes. Topics such as knitting, ceramics, embroidery and writing are taught in the building’s classrooms by the artists themselves.

The center includes the True F. Luck Gallery, which hosts up to five art exhibitions a year. Its spacious room is used for self-guided tours, exhibit receptions and has white walls filled with enjoyable art. All artwork seen in the gallery is for sale to the public. 

The galleries listed have interactive activities, events and exhibitions to check out throughout the year. For more information, visit the links under each gallery name.

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