Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Artmobile makes stop at Shenandoah

shenandoah universityThe Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will park its artmobile at Shenandoah University for three days as part of its traveling program, “VMFA on the Road: An Artmobile for the 21st Century.”

The 53-foot-long, 18-wheel tractor-trailer features 640 feet of display space for art exhibits and educational opportunities. It will be parked on the lawn in front of Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre from Wednesday, Sept. 25, to Friday, Sept. 27. The general public and Shenandoah University community are invited to drop in and tour the artmobile from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 25, and 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 26.

Shenandoah University was founded as a conservatory in 1875 and has over the years built on that conservatory base to include such fields as theater, dance, visual art, virtual and augmented reality, business and more.

“Shenandoah University’s mission is to bring together liberal arts and professional education,” said University Trustee Mary Shockey, who spearheaded the artmobile’s arrival at Shenandoah. “A partnership with the VMFA offers us an avenue to bring visual arts to all our students. Art is important for students to develop a sense of perspective, spark creativity, think critically, and to see our local and global world with a new perspective. The VMFA’s global reach integrates well with Shenandoah University’s global mission.”

The artmobile will feature the inaugural exhibition “How Far Can Creativity Take You? VMFA Fellowship Artists.” This exhibit explores the history and legacy of VMFA’s Statewide Fellowship Program. Since the program was established in 1940, VMFA has awarded more than $5 million to more than 1,300 undergraduate, graduate and professional artists, along with graduate-level art historians, all of whom were residents of Virginia when they applied. Each year, up to 30 artists and art historians receive more than $162,000 in support.

Featured artists in the exhibit include painters Cy Twombly and Benjamin Wigfall; photographers Sally Mann and Emmet Gowin; printmakers Dennis Winston and Ann Chenoweth; and television writer and director Vince Gilligan, among other Virginians.

The artmobile’s interior includes a gallery presenting works of art by fellowship winners along with in-depth video interviews with the artists, VMFA curators and educators. There is also a modular studio that can be used for interactive hands-on creativity. Visitors can participate in a collaborative project to be completed over the course of the tour and also create their own take-home projects. One section will highlight the history of the fellowship program, including video footage and historic images.

“Having the VMFA Artmobile at Shenandoah is a terrific opportunity for the Northern Shenandoah Valley to experience works of the VMFA Fellowship artists up close,” said Provost Adrienne Bloss, Ph.D. “There has been very strong interest from classes and individual faculty, staff and students at  Shenandoah University, as well as from local high schools and members of the community. We are grateful to the VMFA for their outreach mission and to the members of the Shenandoah community who worked to bring the artmobile to our campus.”

The Shenandoah Center for Immersive Learning will also be open in the basement of the nearby Health and Life Sciences Building from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 25, for anyone who would like to see where students in the virtual reality program receive a hands-on education in a growing field that melds creativity with technical expertise.

The original Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Artmobile started in 1953, with a 45-foot aluminum truck. Over the years, more trucks were added and these brought exhibitions and artist demonstrations and workshops to colleges, schools and community organizations all over Virginia. The program ended in 1994 due to budgetary constraints and concerns over protecting the artwork.

In 2015, VMFA leadership began to rethink the idea of using an artmobile. When the Commonwealth of Virginia offered the museum the artmobile, “VMFA on the Road: An Artmobile for the 21st Century” began to take shape. The new artmobile made its debut in Fredericksburg in October 2018.

For details on the artmobile’s schedule, visit

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