Robinson House at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) Celebrates New Chapter

Richmond, Va. — The historic Robinson House at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has a multilayered story that resonates with the history of Virginia.

Originally constructed in 1820 as a family farmhouse, the structure was converted into the R.E. Lee Camp No. 1 before it became part of the VMFA complex in 1964. The Robinson House was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 and is one of the oldest buildings in the Boulevard Historic District of Richmond.

Today, VMFA’s Robinson House celebrates a new chapter as a regional tourism center on the grounds of the museum.

VMFA added 3,200 additional square feet to the original 7,600-square-foot structure during rehabilitation. Per the architect, Glavé & Holmes, the addition complements the former home’s style and introduces an accessible entrance.  The expansion houses an elevator, stairway, and three floors of glass-enclosed porches that connect to the original structure. Interior work included restoring the space to reflect historical accuracies.

Robinson House is home to the Richmond Region Tourism Center, VMFA’s Human Resources Division, and a first-floor gallery featuring an exhibition about the story of the site from the 17th century to the present (see below).

The building re-opened to the public in 2019. Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc. is the general contractor and Glavé & Holmes is the architect. Both companies have offices in Richmond.

About The Exhibit

The free exhibition “Across Time: Robinson House, Its Land and People” interprets the multilayered history of the museum grounds from the 17th century to the present. Richly illustrated with maps, prints, and period photographs, the narrative includes Virginia’s native peoples and English colonists; an antebellum family and the enslaved people who labored for and sometimes escaped from them; the R. E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers’ Home—a veterans’ facility born out of a spirit of reconciliation between North and South.

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA)

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. VMFA, which opened in 1936, is a state agency and privately endowed educational institution. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret art, and to encourage the study of the arts.