Fashion, jewelry and antiquities will be featured in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ (VMFA) collections for this winter and spring, led by exhibitions from jewelry designer Jean Schlumberger, fashion from world-renowned designer Yves Saint Laurent and decorative art of the last days of Russia’s Romanov dynasty.

The first new collection to be featured in 2017 will be the Rachael Lambert Mellon collection of Jean Schlumberger, a display of French Schlumberger’s jewelry designed for celebrated manufacturers including Tiffany & Co. This exhibit is composed of 142 artifacts from Schlumberger’s vibrant and striking jewelry work in the mid-20th century, Michael Taylor, the VMFA's curator and deputy director of art and education, said. 

Receiving this work is a “once-in-a-lifetime” gift to the VMFA, he said. This showing will be held in the Evans Court gallery of the museum, from Feb. 10 to June 18, and will be free and open to the public.

The next new exhibit, held in the combined Altria Group gallery and Newmarket gallery, will be Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style. This will feature a major retrospective of fashion, art, photography and more from the French designer, in a show that includes the many tools and mediums with which Saint Laurent worked in his career. 

This exhibition follows the evolution of Saint Laurent’s style and motifs throughout the designer’s career, as well as his intensive work method. It will premiere on May 6 and show until Aug. 27, and will be free for VMFA members but ticketed for non-members.

The ongoing Faberge and Russian Decorative Arts exhibit is open to the public in the European Tapestry Hall, adjacent to Evans Court. 

The VMFA holds the largest collection of Russian art and Faberge eggs outside of Russia, hosting 280 objects of fine detail and historical importance. The collection expanded in October to include physical models showcasing the intricacies of the selections, as well as increased technology surrounding the works, including an app that pairs the history of each item in the collection with interactive games and videos.

These exhibits emphasize accessibility, Taylor said, something that the VMFA has found success with in the past.



“The Kehinde Wiley exhibit is one we had great success with, and I think part of why it was so successful was that it had a commonality to it,” he said. “These artists we have lined up for the spring season all have a similar orbit, even though their mediums are different. They all pushed the envelope in their own times.”

Taylor said that students would be especially drawn to this spring’s collections.

“Students who come to these exhibitions will hopefully feel inspiration through our curation of works that are of the moment, something that creative young people can relate to,” he said.

These exhibits present a new way for students to learn through the works of designers, allowing students a different medium through which to absorb artistic value.

“Art does a great job of expanding awarenesses,” Erling Sjovold, a University of Richmond professor of art and art history, said. “Multimedia is a lot to take in, and even though art is a different way to express and receive information, I think it is an incredibly rich process and something students can learn from.“

The VMFA’s Newmarket gallery currently features the works of painters Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch, in the Love, Loss, and the Cycle of Life exhibit. This showing will end on Feb. 20.

Contact reporter Kevin Johnson at walter.johnson@richmond.edu

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