Nearby: “Edward Hopper and the American Hotel” Exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Virginia museum of Fine Arts, located in a magnificent modern building in Richmond, is just an hour’s drive from The Inn at Monticello.

As innkeepers, we’re interested in art, books and other works about the history and evolution of American tourism and hospitality in our country’s increasingly mobile society, and throughout the world.  Witness, for example, the AirBnB phenomenon, the rise of luxury hotels, glamping, and the proliferation of cruise ships.

If you share our interest, you should visit the VMFA.  The museum is currently exhibiting works by American painter and illustrator Edward Hopper (1882-1967).  Titled “Edward Hopper and the American Hotel”, the show features some of Hopper’s works inspired by his multiple car trips across the USA and Mexico during the pre- and post-WWII period.

Hopper thoroughly enjoyed automobile travel and hotels and motels.  These types of overnight accommodations, especially motels, became popular as roads improved,  more people began exploring the country by car, or economic development in the south midwest or west encouraged business travel, tourism and relocation.

Hopper was most interested in capturing the lodging experience from the viewpoint of the guest, either traveling alone or as a couple. The setting of each of his hotel/motel works, coupled with the facial expressions and positions of the characters, tells a story which is often ambiguous.  What just happened with the guest?  What is he or she now thinking?  What comes next?  Each painting offers clues, but then it’s up to the viewer to decide.  That is one of the most interesting features of Hopper’s paintings and illustrations.

Sebastian Smee, Art Critic for the Washington Post, drove down from DC in November, stayed in a B&B, and then visited the Exhibit.  The title of his story says it all: “This Edward Hopper exhibition on hotels is worth an extended stay.”   

We agree.  Go see the Hopper Exhibit at the spectacular VMFA before the show closes on February 23rd, and be sure to stay at a hotel, motel or B&B along the way!

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