With its striking design courtesy of Steven Holl Architects, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art is not your average collegiate gallery. Its debut this spring has given art and architecture buffs new cause to visit the institute’s hometown.
“Richmond has an incredibly vibrant cultural scene,” says ICA chief curator Stephanie Smith. “We hope to connect that community with the international art world.”
The ICA’s inaugural exhibition, Declaration (through Sept. 9), explores art’s power to spark change: one piece lets visitors record their own “declarations,” while another invites guests to bring in clothing in need of repair, which a volunteer will fix on the spot.
If you’re in town in the coming months, catch the reflective Monumental: Richmond’s Monuments (1607–2018) at another noteworthy museum, the Valentine (July 4–Jan. 2, 2019), an institution focusing on the city’s history and culture, and Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen, a survey on the activist-artist at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Aug. 25–Nov. 25).
Book a room at the Quirk Hotel (doubles from $169), a cheerful, cheeky hideaway built in a 1916 department store, and snag a souvenir at menswear destination Jackson & James or clothing and housewares shop Need Supply Co.
The latter is just a short drive from Maymont, a 100-acre Victorian estate that’s home to Japanese gardens and a 33-room mansion.
Sample Chesapeake Bay oysters and Virginia brews at Rapp Session, but save room for dinner at L’Opossum sur la Colline de l’Orégon (entrées $22–$36), where the playful names (one dish is called “C’mon Simone, let’s talk about your big halibut”) belie a seriously sophisticated approach to food.