Among the glamorous guests were Jim and Fran Mc Glothin, in whose honor the new wing is named, Roland Celette, Cultural Attaché Embassy of France, Louise and Harwood Cochrane, Sybil and Charles Thalhimer, Marty Barrington (of Altria Group, which owns Philip Morris, and which underwrote the party along with the Dominion Resources, Richard S.
would rise again and indeed several hundred of Virginia’s most philanthropic socialites seemed to fulfill that promise on Friday, April 23, when the august Virginia Museum of Fine Arts hosted a lavish soiree to celebrate the opening of the enormous $150 million James W. It was in the depths of the Great Depression that the original VMFA opened in 1936, on the site of a Confederate soldiers' retirement park (which also has a replica of The White House, a home for Confederate Ladies, still standing on the spacious campus), as a Federal WPA building planned to house a 1919 donation by Judge John Barton Payne of 50 paintings to form the nation's first state art museum.
"Actually we have raised about $200 million for both this architectural project and endowments," Board President Pamela Reynolds proudly disclosed during a private luncheon prior to the black-tie gala that evening, as bulldozers rearranged the sculpture garden landscape beyond the lily ponds just outside the towering windows, all sleekly designed by modernist London architect Rick Mather.
Billionaire art collector Paul Mellon and his sister Ailsa Mellon Bruce soon added their incomparable financial support, and the collections steadily grew to world class stature, as with the Lillian Thomas Pratt bequest of Fabergé eggs and jewels in 1947, and the rococo and neo-classical English silver of New Yorkers Jerome and Rita Gans in 1996.
Many New Yorkers will, in fact, meet up with an old friend when perusing the new American galleries.
Here in pride of place is the Worsham-Rockefeller Room, which was installed for many years in the Museum of the City of New York, which recently, and very generously, donated the room to the Virginia Museum.
The bedroom is from the posh 1880s New York City home of native Richmonder Arabella Yarrington Worsham Huntington. Rockefeller Sr., who left the interiors largely intact.)Among the honored guests were five governors of Virginia (from left): Linwood Holton, Tim Kaine, Governor Bob Mc Donnell, James Gilmore, Douglas Wilder, VMFA President Pamela Reynolds, VMFA Director Alex Nyerges.Mark Warner also attended but unavailable for the photograph."Now we can claim to be among the top ten art museums in America," the stately museum's director Alex Lee Nyerges confidently announced during a tour of the galleries, encompassing European and American paintings, sculpture, and furniture, huge baroque tapestries, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine antiquities, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian masterworks, Pre-Columbian and Native American treasures, the extraordinary Art Nouveau and Art Deco and mid to late 20th-century art collections of Richmonders Sydney and Frances Lewis, who founded the Best Products Company, as well as the renowned Ludwig and Rosy Fischer collection of German Expressionism, among many other divisions and departments. "Major" Reynolds, of the eponymous aluminum dynasty, is the Old Dominion's most flamboyant and effervescent hostess, and she informed this correspondent that her extravagant gown for the ball, made by artist Melody Gulick was her own creation, "made entirely of paper and inspired by the fantastic dresses of Alexander Mc Queen and Christian Lacroix," as you can see in the photo of her.Joining her were no less than six Virginia governors, including the current boss, Bob Mc Donnell and his wife Maureen, and past bosses Tim Kaine and his wife Anne, James Gilmore and his wife Roxane, Douglas Wilder, Mark Warner (now US Senator) and Linwood Holton, who posed together for an unprecedented gubernatorial portrait in the vast Harwood and Louise Cochrane atrium, while musicians serenaded the revelers and Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats performed high above.Guests enjoyed cocktails while previewing potential purchases for the collection, and during dinner voted on artwork to acquire for Rienzi’s collection, which includes 18th- and 19th- century European porcelain, silver, furniture, ceramics, and glass.In the ballroom, an elegant meal prepared by Jackson and Company included asparagus spears with truffle oil, fleur de sel, and shaved black truffles; beef tenderloin with béarnaise sauce; whipped potatoes; creamed spinach; and cheese, fruit and nuts.Over a dessert of chocolate pots de crème, Rienzi director Katherine Howe announced voting results.