Sixty-five years after the launch of its original Artmobile, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is once again bringing traveling art exhibitions and educational offerings to audiences across the Commonwealth with VMFA on the Road: An Artmobile for the 21st Century.
This state-of-the-art mobile museum and education studio will be in downtown Staunton on Sunday, Feb. 24, 12:30-5 p.m. to help celebrate the Opening of the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s Annual Juried Youth Art Show that same afternoon, noon-4 p.m.
There is no charge to board the ArtMobile or to visit the Art Center galleries.
The ArtMobile will re-locate to the Woodrow Wilson Schools complex for group tours Monday, Feb. 25 and Tuesday, Feb. 26, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Any groups may make reservations by calling the Art Center at 540-885-2028. The general public may drop by to view the ArtMobile in the Fishersville complex, 4-6 p.m., Monday, February 25.
Visitors will be invited to board the new Artmobile to view the inaugural exhibition, How Far Can Creativity Take You? VMFA Fellowship Artists, which explores the history and impact of VMFA’s fellowship program, the largest of its kind in the United States.
The Artmobile: Yesterday and today
Beginning in 1953 the original Artmobile program brought art exhibitions and educational programs to colleges, schools, and community organizations across Virginia for 40 years, reaching 2.5 million people. For many Virginians, this unique art-museum-on-wheels was their first encounter with VMFA. Since then, museums around the country and throughout the world have created their own mobile museum experiences.
VMFA discontinued its Artmobile program in the early 1990s. As part of its 2015-20 strategic plan, and a renewed commitment to statewide outreach, museum leadership began exploring ways to bring this beloved program back. When the Commonwealth offered VMFA an 18-wheel tractor-trailer that includes 640 feet of display space, the museum began working with exhibition design firms Riggs Ward Design of Richmond and Explus Inc. in Sterling to design and fabricate a new and improved version of the Artmobile, equipped with cutting edge technology for 21st-century visitors.
“As a statewide art museum we are charged not only with welcoming visitors to our Richmond campus, but also with bringing art and educational programs to all corners of the Commonwealth,” says VMFA Director Alex Nyerges. “VMFA on the Road allows us to significantly extend our reach so that every Virginian has access to authentic works of art and arts-based educational programming regardless of their location or economic status. It is our hope that VMFA on the Road will transform lives and communities through the creative power of art.”
VMFA currently serves nearly 500,000 people beyond its Richmond campus each year through lectures, artist workshops, teacher trainings and traveling exhibitions hosted by more than 1,000 Statewide Partners, including schools, community centers, colleges and universities, libraries, hospitals and museums around the state. With VMFA on the Road and Lettie Pate Evans Distance Learning Program (Evans 360°), the museum’s new digital outreach initiative, VMFA hopes to reach more than 1 million Virginians each year.