Places to Go - A Weekend in Richmond & Sally Mann at the VMFA


Welcome to Day 5 of GROWN UP WEEK on the blog (the last day), as next week I'll return to kid-stuff. For the final day, I thought I'd recommend a romantic night away in Richmond, VA (the curse of the accidental rhyme returns). Richmond is about 100 miles from the DC area, making it the perfect destination for a kidmoon. A night in the Jefferson Hotel looks amazing (we've never been, but hopefully will go one day). And recently, the Washington Post highlighted Richmond's gastronomical offerings (click here for article), many of which sound lovely for a date night.

Of course, I'm partial to Richmond because my in-laws live there, so we've spend some time exploring the city. In fact, over the holidays my husband and in-laws watched the children for a morning so I could check out Sally Mann's exhibit at the VMFA ("Virginia Museum of Fine Arts"). In the photography world, Sally Mann is a pretty big deal (to put it lightly) and in the world of children's photography Sally Mann is pretty much the pinnacle. Her most famous body of work is a collection of black and white photos of her children, entitled "Immediate Family". The book's photos of often naked children, combined with Mann's exploration of adult-type themes, have made Mann a subject of controversy since the book's release in the early 1990s (along with several accusations of child pornography). I own the book (I've photographed some excerpts above) and while it is fair to say that some of the images are disturbing, I also have to say that Mann's photos are the most incredible I've ever seen. Ever.

Regarding Mann's newer work, her exhibit at the VMFA was very different than I expected. Mann's recent work utilizes old photography techniques, so that the images, blown up to large sizes, look aged and abstract, much more ambiguous than Mann's earlier detailed photos of her children. Several of the recent images still have disturbing undertones (such as the photos of dead decaying bodies), but the portraiture aspect is almost completely missing. While I prefer her earlier work, the exhibit provided a nice opportunity to see the journey of an artist and reflect on the changes in Mann's style.

At the end of the exhibit, the museum plays a documentary entitled "What Remains" in which Mann discusses her art and her process, which I found fascinating to watch. Especially the family's comments on the photos of her now-grown children. If you can't make it to the museum, Netflix carries the film. The exhibit runs through January 23rd and costs $10 (general admission to the museum is free). For more information, click here.

Besides Sally Mann, the VMFA's permanent collection includes several works by big-name artists - Cy Twombly, Alex Katz (my hero), Edward Hopper, Thomas Struth, etc. Definitely worth a visit (see some pics below). And while taking children to an art museum can be fun (click here to read about our experience), it's also nice to have an afternoon sans kids once in awhile. So if you can swing it, a weekend in Richmond sounds like the perfect adult getaway. Treat yourself.




  1. I didn't know the VMFA had a Struth in its collection! It has been years since I've been there. He's absolutely my favorite artist.

  2. I haven't seen much of his work, but I'd love to see more. His photo is pictured on the way bottom of the post, in person it's HUGE and really beautiful, I couldn't stop looking at it.



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