Friends of American Art trip to Richmond, VA

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The Friends welcomed summer in the Old Dominion, where they enjoyed a full week of museum and historic site tours, a private collection visit, and plenty of local cusine . They stayed at Richmond’s opulent Jefferson Hotel, its rich past reflected in its Tiffany stained-glass dome and dazzling blend of architectural styles. The Jefferson is also home to Lemaire, one of Richmond’s finest restaurants, where the Friends enjoyed a sumptuous welcome dinner in an elegant private dining room appointed with a major painting by Elizabeth Jane Gardner, the American wife and student of French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

They learned first-hand the history of one of Richmond’s finest private collections of American art from Mrs. Jane Joel Knox (and husband Joe), who in 2005 was named Collector of the Year by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The VMFA ranks as one of the largest and top comprehensive art museums in the United States, and a highlight of the trip was touring the new James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing, devoted to the McGlothlin’s outstanding gift of 73 American masterworks spanning the Hudson River School to Modernism.

The travelers also experienced historical American art and material culture in its original context—with curator-led tours of house museums including the Maymont Mansion, a sprawling Victorian country estate of the Gilded Age, and the 1812 John Wickham House, a spectacular example of 19th-century Federal architecture and interior decorative painting. A full day was devoted to the work of Thomas Jefferson, beginning with a visit to the University of Virginia to learn more about Jefferson’s unique vision of higher education, which brought together students, faculty, and academic resources into a cohesive Academic Village. They were treated to an in-depth curator-led tour of Monticello with special access to upper floors and stunning views of the property from the Dome Room.

The trip culminated with a tour of the beautiful and historic Hollywood Cemetery. Situated along the scenic James River, this 135-acre garden cemetery is the final resting place of U.S. Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, writer Ellen Glasgow, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals George Pickett and J.E.B. Stuart. They enjoyed a farewell dinner at Julep’s New Southern Cuisine, celebrating not only their time spent in Virginia but also the tenure of Dr. Graham Boettcher, the inaugural William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art. The BMA’s new Curator of American Art, Dr. Katelyn Crawford, will co-lead a weekend trip to Dallas with Curator of European Art Dr. Robert Schindler this fall.