If all the sun, sand, and barbecues just aren’t for you, but you still feel like you want to get away, then this is the perfect activity for you. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is hosting an exhibition called Tiffany: Color and Light starting on May 29-August 15. This exhibition features the work of renowned designer and master of glass, Louis Comfort Tiffany. Think windows and glass lamps. VMFA is the only American museum to show the exhibition (Go Richmond!). To complement this exhibit, VMFA has put together a driving tour of Tiffany windows throughout Virginia. Don’t worry if you don’t want to spend your weekend driving all over the state, a large portion of the windows are right here in Richmond. Just download the audio off the website and you are set to go!
The entire central Virginia tour is laid out here. I don’t think there is any set order to the sites and the interior access hours of each site are different so be sure to check before you go. There are no entrance fees except where noted. There are audio downloads for each site as well. If you don’t have an iPod or some other fancy audio device to put it on, there are written transcripts you can print out and read to yourself.
The first Richmond location is All Saints Episcopal Church which has 2 Tiffany windows. Interior hours here are very limited, Tuesdays from 9-12pm. Something tells me though that you can probably see the windows from the outside as well.
Next head over to the Congregation Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives where you can see the Mount Sinai Tiffany window. This isn’t the hospital, its a window featuring a large volcano and it is amazing.
Now head over to the Historic Ginter Park neighborhood to visit Ginter Park Baptist Church where the ornamental windows from the former Grace Street Presbyterian Church are located. If you want a tour you need to call ahead for an appointment, but roaming around on your own is free.
Next go to N. Laurel, next to the Landmark Theater, and visit the Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church where you can see the Angel Gabriel window.
From here, drive over to the Lewis Ginter Mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetary. Here you will find 3 Tiffany windows that are incredible. There is no audio for this portion of the tour, but that is probably because Hollywood Cemetary offers their own walking tours.
Maymont Mansion is your next stop, where you can see a 15 foot stained glass window over the mansion’s grand staircase. The mansion also has many other pieces by Tiffany. There is a suggested donation of $5/person for entrance into the mansion. Maymont is also offering a a 1 hour guided tour every Friday that features Tiffany’s works throughout the mansion and is meant to compliment the VMFA exhibit. There is a $10/person charge for this tour, but if you are a diehard, why not go for it, everything else has been free up to this point.
Saint James Episcopal Church has 4 windows and free admission, but if you want to get in, you need to call ahead. There is also no audio for this stop so you may want to try and view the windows from outside.
Next is the biggie, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where you will find 10 amazing Tiffany windows and an altar piece mosaic. This is one of the largest displays of Tiffany pieces in the area. The Church also put together an awesome online site where you can learn everything there is to know about the windows. If you were going to go to just one place on the tour, this would be it. There are good access hours here and free guided tours.
Finish up back at the VMFA where in addition to the exhibit, there are 2 Tiffany windows on display. If all of those stops weren’t enough for you, there are plenty of stops in Charlottesville and Petersburg too so why not make a few days of it. I’m not sure the kids will get a kick out of it, but what a wonderful and peaceful way to spend a day or two.