With the Chrysler's household membership, art enthusiasts get a diverse palette of benefits, including unlimited free admission to all special exhibitions, such as Dawoud Bey's large-as-life photography of an economically varied set of high schools, which runs through August 8, 2010. You'll also receive special invitations to members-only exhibition previews, guest passes for friends and family, and numerous chances to learn about Monet's disregarded BMX dirt-bike sketches. Young, aesthetically minded professionals also gain membership to For Art's Sake, a social networking group that provides free admission to every Warm It! and Cool It! seasonal after-work concert for an audible edge to the visual feast. Check the museum's website for a full list of benefits, including discounts at The Museum Shop and Cuisine & Company at the Chrysler Café.
Peninsula Fine Arts Center isn't a passive art museum where guests stare silently at paintings and statues. Instead, the center uses rotating exhibitions of paintings, photographs, and pottery to inspire visitors to create their own artwork. To that end, the exhibiting artists often teach in the center's Studio Art School. Classes range from single-day workshops to 10-week sessions, during which instructors might teach small groups to paint with watercolors or change out a flat pottery wheel. The instructors keep their schedule balanced, leading classes that suit all ages and skill levels. Other classes, such as Little Helping Hands Adventure in Clay, let kids and adults create artwork together.
Kids don't need to sign up for classes to try out their art skills, however. In the Hands On for Kids interactive gallery, young patrons draw on a chalkboard wall, build with blocks, and complete various projects inspired by the exhibitions.
To stay true to the ever-changing genre it represents—and keep security guards entertained despite their short attention spans—the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art continually changes the artwork that adorns its 6,300 square feet of exhibition space. Though the exhibits predominately feature work from living artists, from the nature-inspired art of Richmond native Sayaka Suzuki to the fantastical landscapes of Jean-Pierre Roy, seminal pieces from late legends settle in from time to time, such as an Andy Warhol exhibit that borrowed pieces from the artist's eponymous gallery and banana farm in Pittsburgh. Beyond its exhibits, MOCA also promotes art education through studio-art classes—sometimes taught by the very virtuosos whose works grace the museum walls—and outreach programs. Held twice a year on the shores of Virginia Beach, outdoor art shows invite national artists to compete in juried contests by signing their own names on lost Picassos.
Founded in 1889, Preservation Virginia is one of the oldest historic-preservation organizations in the country. Its dedicated team has worked on more than 200 historic places, including landscapes, structures, and archaeological sites. The organization provides visitors with a tangible example of life in the past at a number of historic homes from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, including Patrick Henry's and Chief Justice John Marshall's homes. Historic Jamestowne, the site of the first permanent British settlement in North America, recreates the landscape of the first meeting between the explorers and Native Americans. Due to the work of the organization, visitors still gaze upon a yeoman planter's cottage that dates back to 1740. Preservation Virginia also teaches aspiring laymen during conservation workshops, compiles lists of endangered historic sites, and spearheads tobacco-barn-protection efforts.
An extensively strange museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not! boasts more than 350 exhibits showcasing odd, rare, and mind-undoing world records, people, and animals. At the in-house 4-D theater, Ripley's hosts thrilling flicks with fantastical on-screen action—action that is complemented by the fourth dimension of interaction, in-audience effects. To cap off the strange-sperience, visitors take a single shot at the impossible laser race, a laser-laden challenge that requires cat-like balance and a cat's-cradle-like ability to weave through light beams. Between perusing the exhibits, taking in the audio-visual amalgamation of the theater, and overcoming futuristic obstacles, this adventurous outing to Ripley's is primed to shock, surprise, and brain-tickle even the most seasoned of UFO investigators or pilots.
The White House of the Confederacy constituted the social, political, and military headquarters of Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. Later named a National Historic Landmark, the building still stands today. Daily guided tours lead guests through the grand 19th-century structure, which houses more than half its original wartime furnishings.
The White House is only steps away from The Museum of the Confederacy's Richmond location, where a core exhibit chronicles the Confederacy from its beginnings to General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Opened 25 years after that fateful event, the nonprofit museum displays artifacts from a collection of more than 15,000 items. They include Stonewall Jackson's sword, a letter from Pope Pius IX, and all the pennies Jefferson Davis etched his face onto in his spare time.
Meanwhile, another 400 artifacts adorn the permanent exhibit at the museum's Appomattox location. Here, a dozen audiovisual stations, parole lists, and the uniform coat worn by Lee illustrate the event that brought the Civil War to a close.