Sunday, December 13, 2009

Norfolk, Virginia's Best Kept Secret

Last Wednesday I enjoyed a rare treat when I visited the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia. I had only recently heard of this museum and was surprised to find a very pleasing collection of artwork. Evidently few others have heard of this place because, as you can see from the following photos, I nearly had the place to myself. It reminded me of mid-week afternoons when I was a young woman in my 20's working in D.C. and I'd sneak away during lunch to visit the National Gallery of Art and have it all to myself. Those days are certainly long gone; these days there's always a crowd at the NGA, but I was able to get that same feeling back last week at the Chrysler.

The museum was founded by Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., who lived from 1909 to 1988. He was the son of the founder of the Chrysler Corporation and collected art nearly throughout his entire life. The exhibits ranged from artifacts from ancient cultures as well as paintings and statuary from every era. However; the Chrysler is best known for its collection of glassware with pieces dating from the Byzantine era all the way to current glass sculpture. It's a phenomenally beautiful collection.

The statue pictured above is Anna Hyatt Huntington's The Torch Bearers and it graces the circular drive at the front of the museum.

I got the red carpet treatment the day I visited.

The spacious main lobby which can be rented for events.

Pandora, by American sculptor, Chauncey Bradley Ives, lives at the bottom of the circular stairs at the end of the children's gallery.

This is the American Sculpture gallery. As you can see, I had the room to myself.

This is Puck by Harriet Goodhue Hosmer. I love that he has a bug in the palm of his hand.

This piece of cameo glass is called Dragon Bowl and was created by the English glass designers, Thomas Webb & Sons in the 1800's.

Unfortunately, I screwed up and forgot to get the name and creator of this lovely piece also located in the Cameo Glass gallery.

I was tickled to find this room of impressionist painters. You can probably make out the Degas and the Cassatt among others in this photo.

On this wall is a Childe Hassam and what at first appeared to me to be a portrait by John Singer Sargent. Upon closer inspection I discovered that it was painted by Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran who was Sargent's teacher. Go figure.

This image and artist were completely new to me. It's called The Bath and was painted in 1868 by Swiss artist, Marc-Gabriel-Charles Gleyre. I think it was my favorite painting of the day. Because you are not permitted to use a flash and the lighting was low in the gallery, I was unable to get a good photo, so I cheated and used a photo from the museum's website.

This is a view of the lobby ceiling taken from an overlook on the second floor.

And this was taken in the vast glass galleries.

I spent 3 hours in the museum (a half hour of that was spent eating lunch and resting my feet in their beautiful cafe) and was unable to get to all the exhibits. Admission to the museum is free (it's closed on Mondays & Tuesdays), but there is a charge to their special exhibits. There was an exhibit of Egyptian Art with an admission charge of $7.00 which I chose to forgo in favor of the permanent exhibit which kept me very busy. The beautiful gift shop is also a "must see". So keep the Chrysler Art Museum in mind if you get to Norfolk; it's well worth the visit.

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