8News Daytrippers: Virginia Museum of Fine Art and the Virginia State Capitol

Each week, 8News Meteorologist Tim Pandajis explores different day trip spots in our area. You can get to most of them on just a tank a gas! This week, Tim serves up a double dose as he visits the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia State Capitol.

The Capitol is only second to the state capitol building in Maryland at Annapolis built just a few years earlier. The building here in Richmond is an architectural gem. Thomas Jefferson based its design off of an ancient Roman temple in France.

“Virginia is alive with history and I think it all starts right here,” says Paul Nardo, Clerk of the House of Delegates. “We consider the capitol as sort of the front door of Virginia. In 1785 we laid the cornerstone here with Patrick Henry, we’ve been down in Jamestown, we moved to Williamsburg and then we came to Richmond. We’ve been meeting here, trying to make the Commonwealth a better place to live work and raise a family.”

Not only is the Capitol a cherished historic site but it is also a fully functioning center of government, where delegates and senators have been meeting for centuries.

“It’s a beautiful place to come and visit,” says Nardo. “You can see where the Bill of Rights were ratified in the old house chamber.. Robert E. Lee also accepted the command here, if you have a Civil War interest, especially with the 150th anniversary coming to a climax.”

The prized possession of the Capitol, housed in the rotunda? An actual bust of George Washington, the only one that he posed for. So if you want to know what he actually looked like in his mid- 50s, this is where you’d come.

The bust is priceless and the only one in existence in the entire country and located right here in your Capitol in Richmond!

Interested in learning more about your government and the history behind it? Tours, exhibits and access to the capitol are all free!

Another star attraction in the river city? The Virginia Museum of Fine Art, where they bring the world to you.

“The Virginia Museum of Fine Art is open 365 days a year, so there is never an excuse not to come,” says Celeste Fetta, Chief Educator at the VMFA. “We’re here in the snow, sleet, rain: any type of weather we’ll be here for you. We have art from all over the world spanning about 5,000 years of culture and history.”

The number of historical pieces housed at VMFA from around the world are astonishing. There’s Greek, Egyptian and Roman works to view.

During his trip, Tim visited part of the museum that houses classical art from the Roman ages. There’s an actual hallway floor painted in a mosaic with tiles from Antioch in the 3rd century AD.”

Immersive experiences are a great way to teach children about certain subjects. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has embraced this with several different exhibits offering hands on activities.

“We are standing in the Mead Westvaco Art Education Center,” says Fetta, “and behind me is an exhibition called Beyond The Walls. It’s an interactive space that represents an emerging class home in China in about the 18th/19th century. You can practice calligraphy on touch screens, you can design your own Chinese seal, play music, play games, unroll a scroll. It’s really designed to give you an immersive experience, its fun for families but we often see the adults using the space more often.”

“Besides the art we also have a lot of programs and activities that happen at the museum,” says Fetta. “We’re open late Thursday and Friday nights. On Thursday you can go into our best cafes and find live jazz.”

With 3 floors full of priceless art and artifacts the VMFA is certainly bound to fill your day with wonder, stop by and check them out.

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