Cultural Exhibition

Ethnographic Art

Photos courtesy of The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Richmond, Virginia

The Ancient American Art Gallery

With a collection of art that spans more than 5,000 years, plus a wide array of special exhibitions, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is recognized as one of the top comprehensive art museums in the United States. The museum’s permanent collection encompasses more than 22,000 works of art. For more information, visit

In May 2010, VMFA opened its doors to the public after a transformative $100‐million building expansion designed by Rick Mather + SMBW Architects. 1717 Design was selected three months later to design the exhibits for The Ancient American Art Gallery, a new 2,850 SF space featuring the Robert and Nancy Nooter Collection of Native American Art and the Pre‐Columbian Gallery.

To control circulation and create distinct thematic areas within the gallery, 1717 developed a series of cases and curving birch‐veneer partition walls that wind throughout the extremely long and narrow gallery. The Nooter Collection includes 150 North American Indian ceramics, baskets, and rugs ranging from the Pacific Northwest coast to the U.S. Southwest tribes. The Pre‐Columbian collection includes ceramic vessels, textiles, sculptures, and metalwork objects from Meso, Central, and South America. This is the first time the collection, which is especially rich in Peruvian gold jewelry and Mayan ceramics, has been on permanent display. The objects are displayed as artworks, rather than artifacts, which encourages viewers to consider the artists and the creative process.