Posts Tagged ‘Museum’

Halloween is definitely getting closer and if you don’t feel like driving to the ends of Richmond Metro to get a pumpkin or have a genuine Halloween experience, you are in luck this weekend.  Sunday, October 17 from 2-5pm the Edgar Allan Poe Museum downtown is having their own pumpkin patch and other Halloween activities for the kids.  Kids will be able to wrap mummies, go on a scavenger hunt, and decorate pumpkins.  There will also be “Poe-themed” face painting and even a black cat pinata.  Costumes are a must and there will be a costume contest to reward the best.  Of course this isn’t a farm so the number of pumpkins is limited.  In other words, if you want a pumpkin in addition to all the other fun activities, get there early.

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum has the world’s finest collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia and personal belongings.  It also has one of the most beautiful gardens in Richmond.  The museum is located close to where Poe lived and worked in Richmond in the early nineteenth century.  What better place to get the full creepy Halloween experience!  The museum is located at 1914-16 East Main Street Richmond, VA 23223.  Admission is $6 which is a lot cheaper than some of the pumpkin patches are charging this year.  Just watch out for ravens 🙂


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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.

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With Memorial Day coming up this weekend, I thought a trip to the Virginia War Memorial would be fitting.  The Memorial is located just north of the river, off of Belvidere Street.  It is currently made up of the Shrine of Memory, Torch of Liberty, Flag Court, Rose garden, and a Visitor Center.  An education center is currently under construction and is estimated to open in September 2010. 

The General Assembly first authorized the Memorial in 1950 as a way to honor Virginia residents who died in WWII.  While the Memorial was still in the planning stages, the U.S. entered the Korean war.  In 1953, after the war ended, the memorial was expanded to include those who died in the Korean War as well.  The Memorial was completed in 1955.  An addition was added in 1981 for the victims of the Vietnam War.  In 1996, names of those killed in the Persian Gulf War were added.   There are currently 11,634 names on the Memorial, arranged first by counties, then cities, then alphabetical.  Plans are underway to honor those who have died in Iraq and Afghanastan too.

The Shrine of Memory is the heart of the Memorial, it is the wall of names.  This is an open air Memorial with the wall on one side made of glass and the other side is made of stone.  The 11,000+ names are engraved on both the stone and glass walls.  There is a beautiful view of the city through the glass walls.   At one end of the Shrine area is a large statue named Memory.   The statue was carved from 100,000 pounds of white marble and stands 23 feet tall.  This is also where you will find the Liberty Torch, also called the eternal flame, and the reflecting pool.

Just outside the Shrine is Flag Court where seven flags fly: Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Merchant Marines, and the Virginia War Memorial. In the center of this semicircle of flags flies the POW/MIA flag in memory of those Prisoners of War and Missing In Action not yet recovered.

There are also 2 rose gardens at the Memorial.  Next to the Visitors Center there is a large bed of red rose bushes named Veterans Honor Rose.  Each day one of these roses is placed at the base of the statue, Memory.  Along the front retaining wall there is a bed of lilac long stem roses named the World War II Memorial Rose.

The War Memorial is open 7 days a week with free admission and free parking.  Tours are available by reservation only.  The Shrine of Memory is open all hours, but the Visitor’s Center and I’m assuming the upcoming educational center does have staffed hours.  All staff are volunteers, with many veterans volunteering. 

This Monday, May 31st, at 10am the 11th District American Legion will host a Memorial Day Ceremony at the War Memorial.  The guest speaker will be Mr. Ronald Miluszewski, Commander, Department of Virginia’s American Legion. This ceremony will be held outdoors and seating will be provided. In addition to Veterans presenting memorial wreaths, there will also be a Color Guard, buglers, rifle squad,and the  St. Andrew’s Society Pipe and Drummers.  The event is family friendly and what better way to show our kids that Memorial Day means more than just a day off of school.  Thanks to all our servicemen and women past, present, and future!

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I came up with a whole bunch of inside activities for this week and weekend, and in case you don’t have windows, it’s of course, sunny and 85 degrees.  Regardless, this particular activity looks interesting enough to forego the weather and go inside. 

The Science Museum of Virginia is more than just a museum.  It also has one of the first IMAX movie theaters and the largest movie screen in Virginia.  IMAX has the capacity to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than most conventional film systems.  The IMAX theater at the Science Museum is an IMAX Dome theater which uses a projector with a fish-eye lens to project the movie onto a tilted dome screen.  The museum regularly hosts educational movies here such as Deep Sea, Arabia, and Mysteries of the Great Lakes.  You can get a full schedule of what is playing now here.  The theater also occasionally plays mainstream movies and some holiday specials (Santa vs. the Snowman was one of my favorites). 

Tonight, the Science Museum is hosting a LiveSky planetarium show in the dome to complement its Vincent Van Gogh IMAX movie.  The movie, Vincent Van Gogh, Brush with Genius, is currently playing at the theater and will run through June 18.  Viewers will have the opportunity to discover the colors and beautiful brushwork of Van Gogh as they relive his life through his letters, places that inspired him, and of course his paintings. The movie plays tonight at 5pm.  Complementing this presentation is “It’s a Starry Night in the planetarium,” a LiveSky planetarium show.  The show will recreate the actual night skies that inspired Vincent Van Gogh to paint his famous work — The Starry Night — along with his other night pieces.

There will also be an astronomer present to answer questions about what you see in the current night sky.  The show starts tonight, May 21, at 6pm and there is no late seating, so arrive early.  Admission is $5.  This event has the potential to be fun, education, affordable, and even romantic.  It’s not too often you find that.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday is Day 2 of the Richmond Home and Garden tours being held as part of Historic Garden Week.  This tour will give you a glimpse of one of the most historic neighborhoods in Richmond — Church Hill.  Homes in this neighborhood date back to the early 1800’s.  Church Hill experienced a serious physical decline during the 1950s, due mostly to absentee landlords. As a result, the Historic Richmond Foundation was established in 1956 out of concern for “saving and enhancing the setting for St. John’s Church.”  In 1957, the City Council created a historic district ordinance.  The preservation of Church Hill marked the formal beginning of the preservation movement in Richmond. 

The Church Hill tour includes the famous “Carrington Row”, the St. John Mews, and other historic homes and gardens dating back to the early 1800’s.  Among other things, visitors will see French, American, Asian, and Latin American paintings and artifacts, a framed collection of early American documents, antiques, a letter dating from the War of 1812, and a piano previously owned by Supreme Court Justice Powell.  It sounds like this tour is going to focus more on homes, than gardens, unless the targeted homes have fantastic gardens as well.      

In addition to the Home and Garden tour, there will be complimentary refreshments available in the back gardens, 2300 Club, 2300 East Grace St. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will also be a free reenactment at St. John’s Church of Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech.   You do need to show proof of a paid Garden Week ticket.  The reenactment starts at 12:30 p.m. and runs for about 40 minutes in duration.  Finally, the White House of the Confederacy (1201 E. Clay St.) is also offering free admission all week with proof of paid ticket from any Garden Week tour in the state.   

The tour runs from 10am-4:30 and ticket prices are the same as yesterday.  A complete schedule is available here.  This is a walking tour so make sure you wear comfortable shoes.  There is also no pre-determined “route” for the tour, you can visit the houses and gardens in any order.

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Agecroft Hall is a Tudor estate located in Windsor Farms (near west end) overlooking the James River.  The house was actually built in Lancashire, England in the late 15th Century.  For hundreds of years, Agecroft Hall was the distinguished home of England’s Langley and Dauntesey families. At the end of the 19th century, however, Agecroft fell into disrepair, and in 1925 it was sold at auction.  Richmonder Thomas C. Williams, Jr. purchased the structure, and had it dismantled, crated, and shipped across the Atlantic, and then reassembled in Windsor Farms (this neighborhood alone is a great place to wander on brick sidewalks and look at the different home styles).   There were many parts of the house that were not viable, so Agecroft today is only one-third the size that it was in England.  Most of the original building material was salvaged and used in the reconstruction, including the timbers, window casements, leaded glass, stone roof, and courtyard gates. Today it serves as a museum portraying the social history and material culture of an English-gentry family of the late-Tudor and early-Stuart eras.  The grounds around Agecroft Hall were designed by the famous landscape architect Charles Gillette to reflect the English gardens.   

The museum and gardens are open to the public Tuesday-Saturday.  Admission is $8/Adult, $7/Seniors, $5/Students, Children under 6 are free.  Admission charges  includes an introductory film and guided tour of the museum. Garden tours are self-guided. 

Each June and July, Agecroft Hall hosts the Richmond Shakespeare Festival outside in the courtyard.  This summer’s schedule is available here.  (I’ll post more on this later in the summer).  The next event at Agecroft is Tea and Tulips on Wednesday, April 14 from 5:30-7pm.  Enjoy tea and sweets on Agecroft Hall’s terrace overlooking the James River, followed by a one-hour tour of the gardens with a special emphasis on the spectacular tulip display in the formal sunken garden.  Admission is $10/person; $7/student.

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For most of you this week is Spring Break, so I thought it would be a good week to focus on some family friendly activities.  There is no better place to take the family than the Children’s Museum of Richmond.  CMOR opened its doors in 1981 in the old Navy Hill building downtown.  In 2000, the Museum opened in its current location, increasing in size from 8100 square feet to 44,000 square feet.  This summer it will open a satellite location in the Short Pump area. What other place can the kids sit inside a real ambulance, climb a treehouse, milk a cow, ride a dinosaur, put on a play, change a tire, and create an artistic masterpiece?  For kids around 10 years old and younger, this place is heaven.  

The Art Studio (my daughter’s personal favorite) is every kids dream.  There are tons of recycled materials including paper bags, styrofoam, string, fabric, and more for the kids to choose from and create.  There are also the basics — markers, paint, glue, and scissors.  Leave their masterpieces to dry on the drying rack while you check out the rest of the museum. 

The Dairy Barn is a newer exhibit where kids can actually milk a “pretend” cow.  Obviously the cow only holds water, but the kids love this activity.  Right next to this exhibit, following in the same theme is the Little Farm.  This is the closed in area for little ones ages 3 and under.  It keeps the younger kids separate from the wild ones and gives them a safe place to crawl around.  This area was recently redone in the farm theme.  I saw it today and it looks great. 

The water play area is always very popular.  This replica of the James River allows kids to float boats down the James River, create dams and make their own floods. There are also waterwheels, squirts and a waterfall.  The museum provides waterproof aprons for the kids to wear to try to keep them dry, but if your kids are really enjoying themselves, it’s a lost cause.  Be careful around this exhibit, it gets very slippery.

The treehouse is very popular with the older kids.  As its name indicates, it is a climbing apparatus that is located above the waterplay area.  It is big enough for parents to venture up as well.  On the other side of the museum is the Town Square exhibit.  Town Square is a mini version of Richmond. It has cobblestone carpeted walkways that lead you to a garage, TV studio, café, grocery store, health center, ambulance, bank, school and shadow park.

One of the best parts of CMOR is the back yard exhibit.  This is an outdoor play area for the kids.  There is a gigantic sandbox, play house, riding toys, water play and more.  Parts of this area are shaded and there are plenty of chairs for weary parents to relax while the kids play.  For the little ones, there is a separate back yard play area off of the Little Farm exhibit. 

In addition to free play, the museum also offers toddler classes, art classes, and summer camps.  I can say from personal experience that the summer camps and the staff are fantastic.  The museum often has special events on weekends.  Some of the upcoming events include the Backyard 500 Race and the State Yo Yo Competition.  

So, now that you are convinced, here are some of the logistics.  The Museum is usually only open to members on Mondays, unless it’s a major school holiday, in which case it opens to the public.  Hours are 9:30-5pm.  Admissions is $8 per person.  If you are planning on making a lot of trips, an annual membership is a much better deal.  Admission prices are cut to $4 after 4pm, but I can say from personal experience that the kids usually aren’t ready to leave after 1 hour.  There are also $1 Target nights on the third Friday of every month from 5:00-7:30. There is no dining facility at the museum.  If you want to bring lunch or snacks, there is an eating area out in the lobby.  Or, you can walk over to the McDonald’s for lunch (right next door) and then re-enter the museum at no cost on the same day.   I didn’t cover all the exhibits, and they are always changing, so be sure to check out the website before you go!

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