In the midst of the Great Depression, in January 1936, Virginia’s political and business leaders bravely demonstrated their faith in the future and their belief in the value of art by opening the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Starting with Judge John Barton Payne's 1919 donation to the commonwealth of 50 paintings and the gifts from other donors that soon followed, the VMFA has developed an exceptional collection over the course of a century, expanding its premises as needed to accommodate its growth.
Noteworthy are the museum’s collections of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Modern and Contemporary American art, French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist, and British sporting art. Also well-represented are Fabergé jeweled objects and English Silver. The museum’s holdings of South Asian, Himalayan, and African art are also notable.
The 3½-acre E. Claiborne and Lora Robins Sculpture Garden is comprised of styled gardens, a cascading waterfall, and on-site sculpture. The multi-leveled grounds afford different viewing perspectives, while the mixture of organic space and contemporary architectural design contributes to the dynamic and ever-changing garden aesthetic.
VMFA is proud to be the only art museum in the United States open 365 days a year with free general admission.