Need some culture? Sara Waits leads us through the gems hidden near Regent!
With the spring semester coming to an end and finals looming, many of us have spent way too much time cooped up in dorms and study rooms. It’s about time for a culture break. Whether you need analyze some sculptures to write that upcoming art and culture essay, or just want a break, these some of the best places near campus to appreciate some art – for free!
1. Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA)
Virginia Beach’s MoCA is considerably smaller than the Chrysler, but offers interesting pieces of modern art. I don’t mean those weird sculptures you see in town centers. No, the MoCA prides itself on featuring art made in our time or that reflect today’s changing thoughts and ideas.
The spotlight for this museum is its use of multimedia – a recent exhibition included running animated shorts to shed light on mental illness. With a single floor, the museum only consumes an afternoon. Regular admission is $5.50 for students, but on Saturday, Sept. 23, admission is free – it’s National Museum Day. The size of the museum makes it worth the wait for broke college students.
2. Chrysler Museum
Located only 20 minutes from campus, this museum features two-floors of galleries to walk through any day of the week – well, except Mondays. From modern to ancient, American to Egyptian, photography to pottery, this museum has something for any fan of the arts. The special exhibitions change every few months, so there is always a reason to come back. Besides the traditional gallery, the Chrysler’s Glass Studio gives glass blowing demonstrations daily. If this all seems too much, don’t worry: the Chrysler’s website provides suggestions for what to do in under an hour. This museum is a great place to spend a rainy day lost among the galleries. Did I mention general admission is free?
3. Neptune Fest
Mark your calendars for Sept. 29 to Oct. 8 – 2017’s edition of the Annual Virginia Beach Neptune Fest. Named after Oceanfront’s icon Neptune statue, this festival brags an international sand sculpting competition along with an arts and crafts show. While it does cost admission to get into the tent and see the colossal pieces of sand art, walking the boardwalk is absolutely free. Free live music, free access to the work of local artists, and free food samples. Lots of kiosks, families, and their pets congregate on the Oceanfront, so parking might be a bit sparse. This is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon if you don’t mind the crowds.
5. Hermitage Museum and Gardens
Located on the banks of the Lafayette River, the Hermitage Museum was the summer home of the Sloane family. Now an art museum open to the public (for a mere $8), the historic house boasts 12 acres of land as well as an extensive gallery that represents years of art history from around the world.
With intricate carvings, stained glass windows, and beautiful landscape design, the Hermitage house itself is a work of art. This museum is perfect if you want to spend some time outdoors exploring the grounds as well as wandering the house’s gallery. Keep an eye on the museum’s website as some events allow free admission into the museum! Local radio stations often pick this charming venue for special concerts – and by special, I mean free.
4. Coffee Shops
Have to study? Short on change? Well, for the price of a single cup of coffee (or tea – your choice) a little bit of art is within your reach. Many of the independent coffee shops around campus display local pieces – some are even for sale. If schoolwork is piling up but you need some culture, this is perfect for you. The Cure in historic downtown Norfolk has hot drinks, good food, art décor, and a lively community surrounding it. Cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings immediately line the walk to the Cure, which is only a short walk away from Pagoda Park.
Other honorable mentions are Three Ships by Oceanfront and Café Stella in Norfolk. Café Stella’s walls are adorned with classic paintings and a few sculptures scattered about the dining space. If you’re short on gas money, even Regent’s Café Moka has a few paintings hanging up.
6. NEON District
The NEON District is a couple blocks of warehouses and shops in downtown Norfolk repurposed by the city as an art’s quarter.
The district is a Regent favorite – a hot spot for students take artsy new profile pictures in front of cool graffiti. St. Paul’s Boulevard and W. Brambleton Ave. box in the area with the Harrison Opera House marking the northern edge. The most popular murals are located near Granby Street, but the beauty of the NEON District is the ability to explore it and find your own adventure. There are many nooks and crannies to explore including the quirky shops in the district. While some may be out of our price range, it doesn’t hurt to look around!
Sara Waits is a staff writer for The Daily Runner.