VMFA creates immersive Edward Hopper museum hotel exhibit and stay

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, has announced a new immersive museum hotel experience celebrating Edward Hopper and the American Hotel.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced the premiere of a new exhibition, based on celebrated American artist Edward Hopper and his depictions of hotels, motels, transport and hospitality. Hopper (1882 – 1967) is well known for his paintings of public and private spaces that echo the isolation, loneliness, and ennui representative of early and mid-20th-century America.

This new exhibition is curated by Dr Leo G. Mazow, the Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art at VMFA, with assistance from Dr Sarah G. Powers. Visitors can view a collection of the artist’s paintings of hotels, motels, tourist homes, boardinghouses, and apartment hotels, and through this gain a better understanding of Hopper’s life and work.

In addition to this, the exhibition features 35 works by other American artists who also explore the visual culture of hotels, travel and mobility from the early 20th century to the present.

Museum hotel experience

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Edward Hopper

Hotel Lobby, 1943, Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967), oil on canvas. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, William Ray Adams Memorial Collection, 47.4 © 2019 Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

The museum has recreated Western Motel, one of Hopper’s best-known paintings, as a three-dimensional space. This interactive exhibition gives visitors the chance to step inside the artwork, through the “Hopper Hotel Experience”.

Some lucky visitors will also be able to enjoy a “museum hotel” stay in a room inspired by Western Motel, with the sold out Hopper Hotel Experience.

“Each of our curators is tasked with creating exhibitions that provide new narratives about the collection and engage visitors with works of art in a unique way,” says Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Director, Alex Nyerges.

“We are thrilled that through this historic exhibition, VMFA’s visitors will be able to interact with and learn from extraordinary paintings, drawings and illustrations by Hopper, as well as works by renowned artists such as Richard Caton Woodville, John Singer Sargent, Charles Demuth, Reginald Marsh, Edward Ruscha and Cindy Sherman.”

Paintings, postcards & diary entries

Edward Hopper and the American Hotel also features selected diaries written by Hopper’s wife, the artist Josephine “Jo” Hopper. These have recently been made available to the public by the Provincetown Art Association and Museum and give a first-hand insight into the couple’s road trips across the US and Mexico.

At well as these diary entries, the exhibition showcases hotel postcards from the 1920s through the 1950s featuring places that the couple visited together. These rarely seen primary sources show the human side of the artist and his wife.

“Edward Hopper is one the best-known 20th-century American artists, yet the public’s conception of him has largely been filtered through a time-worn biographical formula that explains his art as the product of a sullen, isolated introvert,” says Mazow.

“Edward Hopper and the American Hotel endeavours to consider hotels, motels and other transient dwellings as vital subject matter for Hopper and as a framework with which to understand his entire body of work.”

Edward Hopper and the American Hotel is open until  23 February 2020.

Images courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Top image: Western Motel, 1957, Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967), oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, B.A., 1903. © 2019 Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY