Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA | CruiseBe
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Chrysler Museum of Art

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The Chrysler Museum of Art is an art museum on the border between downtown and the Ghent district of Norfolk, Virginia. The museum was originally founded in 1933 as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. In 1971, automotive heir, Walter P. Chrysler Jr. (whose wife, Jean Outland Chrysler, was a native of Norfolk), donated most of his extensive collection to the museum. This single gift significantly expanded the museum's collection, making it one of the major art museums in the Southeastern United States. From 1958 to 1971, the Chrysler Museum of Art was a smaller museum consisting solely of Chrysler's personal collection and housed in the historic Center Methodist Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Today's museum sits on a small body of water known as The Hague.


Expansion and Renovation of the main building

The museum's main building underwent expansion and renovation and reopened on May 10, 2014. During the renovation, the Glass Studio and the Moses Myers House remained open and art was displayed at venues throughout the community. The museum's grand reopening included the Rubber Duck floating sculpture from May 17–26, 2014.

The Collection

The New York Times described the Chrysler collection as "one any museum in the world would kill for." Comprising over 30,000 objects the collection spans over 5000 years of world history. American and European paintings and sculpture from the Middle Ages to the present day form the core of the collection.

The museum's most significant holdings include works by Tintoretto, Veronese, Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez, Salvator Rosa, Gianlorenzo Bernini, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Cole, Eugène Delacroix, Édouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Gustave Doré, Albert Bierstadt, Auguste Rodin, Mary Cassatt, Paul Gauguin, Georges Rouault, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Richard Diebenkorn, Karen LaMonte and Franz Kline.

The Chrysler Museum is home to the final sculpture of the Baroque master Gianlorenzo Bernini, a marble bust of Jesus created as a gift for the artist's benefactor, Queen Christina of Sweden.The Museum also houses one of the world's greatest collections of glass (including outstanding works by Louis Comfort Tiffany), distinguished holdings in the decorative arts, and a fine and growing collection of photography. The arts of the ancient world, Asia, Africa, and Pre-Columbian America (particularly Maya ceramics) are also well represented.

Programs and Exhibitions

The Chrysler Museum strives each day to fulfill its purpose, to remain a catalyst, bringing art and people together to enrich and transform lives. A full range of guided tours, lectures, films, concerts, family days, travel programs, and publications are designed to engage the community in works of art displayed in the museum. Each year, over 100 Volunteer Docents welcome over 60,000 students from Hampton Roads' schools for tours at the Museum the Historic Houses.

The Chrysler not only offers visitors the opportunity to engage in artwork from its permanent collection, but the Museum also introduces several changing exhibitions including unique works from around the globe. Recent offerings include Rembrandt's Etchings: The Embrace and Darkness of Light, From Goya to Sorolla: Masterpieces from The Hispanic Society of America, To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Rodin: Sculpture from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection and finally the latest installment, American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell.

The Jean Outland Chrysler Library

The Jean Outland Chrysler Library is one of the largest and most important art libraries in the South. The collection covers the entire history of world art, with special emphasis on material relevant to the Chrysler's permanent collection. The Library subscribes to several hundred art-related journals, has an extensive collection of current and historical auction catalogues, and exchanges publications with 400 art museums around the world.

The Library is named in honor of Jean Outland Chrysler, wife of the late Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., who played a leading role in its formation and expansion. The collection is based on the original holdings of the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences library. In 1977, the library of the London art dealer M. Knoedler & Co. was purchased, adding major historical reference volumes, periodicals, and rare annotated sales catalogues. The Library also houses the Museum's archives, a rich source of local history that includes Mark Twain's original typescript of a speech he delivered at the Jamestown Tricentennial Exposition of 1907 and a collection of papers from the Moses Myers family provides unique insights into the life of an important Tidewater merchant during the nation's early history.

The Jean Outland Chrysler Library will move from the Chrysler Museum of Art into a new art building on the Old Dominion University campus after that facility is completed in early 2014.

Historic Houses

In addition to its main building in downtown Norfolk, the Chrysler Museum of Art also administers two important Historic Houses.

Moses Myers House

The Moses Myers House in downtown Norfolk is not only an unusually elegant example of Federal period architecture, but almost unique in America as it retains 70 percent of its original contents. The House and its furnishings allow visitors to experience first-hand the life of a prosperous Jewish merchant and his family during the early 19th century. Moses Myers moved to Norfolk in 1787 with his wife Eliza. Five years later, he purchased a large lot where he erected a home for his family. Today the house contains an important collection of American, English, and French furniture, along with glass, silver, and ceramics, and portraits by Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, and John Wesley Jarvis. All were commissioned or acquired by members of the Myers family.

The house was built about 1792, and is a two-story, Federal style brick townhouse. Its facade features a pedimented gable end roof and a small aedicula type portico surrounding the front door. In 1796, a two-story octagonal ended wing attributed to Benjamin H. Latrobe was added to the rear of the house to contain a large dining room. Also on the rear are a two-story service wing and an attached two-story kitchen. A historic renovation of the house occurred in 1906 in anticipation of the Jamestown Exposition. The house was converted to a house museum in 1931.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, with an amendment made in 2009.

Norfolk History Museum at the Willoughby-Baylor House

The Norfolk History Museum at the Willoughby-Baylor House: The Norfolk History Museum at the newly refurbished Willoughby-Baylor House (ca. 1794) illuminates the wide range and richness of the history of the entire region by providing engaging thematic offerings and surveys including the decorative arts of Norfolk, the story of Norfolk at various stages in its history as an international port and maritime center, and the area's impressive naval and military heritage.

General Museum Information

Museum Hours

Glass Studio Hours

Moses Myers House Hours

The Norfolk History Museum at the Willoughby-Baylor House

Admission Charge

FREE (Voluntary contributions are accepted)

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