Every last Friday of the month, U.Va. students, faculty and museum members swarm the Fralin Museum of Art for Final Fridays. On a typical day, only a few students and members of the University wander through the museum, but these Fridays hold a particular appeal. Starting at 6 p.m., the museum opens its doors to host the monthly social event featuring food, drinks, entertainment and, of course, art. Even better — especially for those college students living on a tight budget — the entire event is free with your U.Va. email address.
The museum uses the events to promote its new exhibitions, as well as its permanent collections. At the most recent Final Fridays, four new exhibitions were featured, including Ancient Masters of Modern Styles, The Valley of the Shadow, Jean Hélion and Making Science Visible.
Attendees can enjoy each of the exhibitions, while munching on cheese and crackers, cookies, strawberries and bean dip or sipping on free alcoholic beverages. Admittedly, I was most excited to attend for the food, but the collections captured my attention almost immediately. One of the most interesting exhibits was The Chinese Ink, which explores how the ancient Chinese tradition of ink painting created a wealth art and influenced many later artists. The paintings’ delicate renderings of mist, mountains and rivers drew me in and sparked discussion between myself and the other attendees.
The event coordinators also do a terrific job of integrating into the evenings a performance art piece that interacts with an exhibit inside the museum’s walls. The most recent Final Fridays showcased the Pride, a University CIO of students performing traditional choreographed Chinese lion dances. At first, everyone seemed somewhat reluctant to leave the food and excellent art in the museum to head outdoors for the performance, but as the drum started to beat inside the hall, everyone was drawn outside.
The exhibitions will change during the course of the year, but Final Fridays are guaranteed to be a relaxing way to appreciate art and the company of others. Everyone should attend Final Fridays, but the Fralin warrants more than a monthly visit. Even on ordinary days, you’ll find something interesting you hadn’t noticed before. So although the next Final Fridays may not be for a few more weeks, stopping by to see these exhibitions will be well worth it.
The new exhibitions will be at the Fralin until Dec. 16.