The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is among the ten largest encyclopedic art museums in the US, maintains an informal partnership with the VCUarts Department of Art History. Collaboration between the department and the museum coincides with new educational opportunities for VCU students, new research on the VMFA’s collections, and a greater sharing of resources between our neighboring institutions.
Visits to the museum and object-based assignments are a key element of VCU classes in diverse areas, from Pre-Columbian to Contemporary art. In addition, selected classes meet at the museum every week. Thanks to the museum’s generous provision of classroom space, these classes allow students to engage directly with their object of study, be it a Renaissance panel painting or a curatorial installation practice. Graduate Museum Studies classes are either held at the museum or include several site visits with VMFA professionals each semester.
The proximity of the VMFA and its outstanding collections also provides professional and research opportunities. Each year, undergraduate and graduate students are awarded internships at the museum in various capacities, working with curators, registrars, educators, and directors. For many students, museum internships have lead to academic projects.
Such projects bring new information to light about the collection and allow VCU students the invaluable opportunity of analyzing art objects that can be seen in person, up close, and repeatedly, leading to richer research projects.