Richmond Magazine highlights the challenges the museum has faced following its huge new addition and heightened notoriety over the past five years.
Alex Nyerges, the director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, remembers a phone call that he got from a VMFA trustee not long after it was announced last November that John Ravenal, the Sydney and Frances Lewis family curator of modern and contemporary art, would be leaving the museum.
“Alex,” the man said, “what in the world are you doing up there?”
Ravenal’s departure is among a long series of exits of longtime VMFA staff — veterans including Sylvia Yount (chief curator and the Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane curator of American art), Robin Nicholson (deputy director for art and education) and Suzanne Hall (chief communications officer), as well as Bob Tarren, marketing and communications director, and Kathy Gillis, senior conservator of sculpture and decorative arts, among others.
People in the greater art world are noticing. “VMFA Poached for Another Top Job,” exclaimed a headline in ArtsJournal, a national blog roll of cultural scribes, when the museum announced Yount was leaving in June 2014.
Photo: Gamma Man