Staff Report

The Hermitage Museum and Gardens has begun a rapid capital campaign with the goal of raising $3.5 million for needed renovations to its Visual Arts School, a Tudor England-styled building, and for enhancements to its grounds.

“The preservation and renovation of the Hermitage’s Visual Arts School is the first step in a fully reimagined Hermitage campus and future,” said Jen Duncan, the Hermitage Museum and Garden’s Executive Director. “This project comes at a significant time for the museum- allowing us to best serve our community and expand on the one-of-a-kind experiences found only at the Hermitage.”

Thus far the fundraising effort, given the project title “Inspiring Places Inspire People,” over $2.38 million thanks largely to the generosity of well-known arts supporters the Goode Family (David, Susan, Martha, and Christina), Joan Brock, Kay and Al Abiouness, Ashlin T. Wilbanks, The Honorable Everett and Nancy Martin, and the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.  

The Visual Arts School has been in continuous operation since 1937, when it was converted from a horse stable by Hermitage founder Florence Sloane. Currently operating at capacity each year, the renovation will maintain the historic integrity of the building, while doubling student capacity by redefining the second floor into classroom and collaborative workspaces. In addition to welcoming more students, the Hermitage will offer new programming and provide multipurpose space for community use.

As for the scenic ground, native grasses and plants, along with permeable parking and walkways will be placed along a living shoreline. The restoration of the structure and its grounds are designed to function and withstand high tides and rising waters from storms; it will be a water resilient campus. 

The Hermitage plans to reopen the Visual Arts School for the 2023 Summer Camp Session.