Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Announces $190 Million Expansion

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced plans for a 200,000-square-foot renovation and expansion expected to cost more than $190 million. Work on the project at the Richmond institution, which is to be overseen by international architectural firm SmithGroup, is projected to be completed in 2025. VMFA director and CEO Alex Nyerges described the project—which represents the museum’s fifth expansion to date, with the last being completed just over a decade ago—as “the largest expansion and renovation project in the history of museum.” 

The expansion will comprise several additions, including a five-story 100,000-square-foot wing located off the museum’s extant Mellon and Lewis Wing and devoted to African art, photography, and art of the twenty-first century. Currently, twenty-first-century art is housed in the McGlothlin Wing, which was reportedly already too small to house that collection when it opened in 2010, and has become more strained with recent acquisitions. The institution’s Egyptian art collection will move into the new wing alongside the African art collection.

“That will unite a storyline that’s long been less understood and that we think is an important part of the renovation and expansion,” Nyerges noted.

Roughly 12,000 square feet of exhibition space will be created to host major special exhibitions, allowing the allow the museum to largely eliminate the three-month gap between big shows, and will include a special ground-floor events space capable of seating five hundred. A new, stand-alone Collections Center will provide 40,000 square feet of space in which to house the museum’s conservation department as well as its collection, and two hundred parking spaces will be added to the institution’s existing six hundred spaces.

The renovation portion of the construction will take place across the museum’s buildings constructed in 1936, 1954, and 1970, respectively, and will include restoration of the Leslie Cheek Theater, Evans Court, and the 1936 building’s entrance. The museum’s former library will be transformed into the Raysor Center, which will be dedicated to the study of photography, prints, and drawings.

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