Blooming Big

The VMFA’s 2016 Fine Arts & Flowers fundraiser celebrates the return of Fabergé. 

The 600 volunteer members of the Council of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts don’t think small. As proof, its 13th biennial Fine Arts & Flowers fundraiser Oct. 20-23 offers a slate of dozens of events and exhibits that would frazzle the nerves of even the most seasoned event planner.

This year, the fundraiser, which features 87 original floral designs created by members of more than 50 garden clubs around the state and inspired by works in the VMFA’s collection, celebrates the opening of the museum’s new Fabergé and Russian and Decorative Arts Galleries. 

The nearly 2,000 square feet of space triples the size of the gallery that housed the museum’s collection of Fabergé until 2012. Special features include a new 360-degree view of the VMFA’s five Imperial Easter Eggs via touchscreens that will reveal their layers, and a display of more than 167 works from the storied firm along with hundreds of other examples of Russian decorative arts. 

Proceeds from Fine Arts & Flowers, which are expected to exceed $125,000, will support the reopening of the galleries that have been named in honor of Eda Hofstead Cabaniss, a former VMFA board member, patron of the museum and the event’s honorary chair.

“We will have floral designs inspired by works from the Ancient world to the 21st century” in every gallery of the museum, explains Ann Lagos, who, with Cammy Carleton, is co-chair of the event. 

Docents will lead special tours to offer insight into the relationship between the arrangements and the artwork, and will—Lagos hopes—help visitors to discover what she calls some of the “hidden gems” in the collection. Overall, explains Carleton, “Our hope is that visitors will come away with a renewed awareness and love for the museum.”

Highlights of the weekend will be the gala preview Wednesday evening, when decorations in the Marble Hall will conjure the lavish Romanov era, and a lecture by Shane Connolly, floral designer for the 2011 wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales to Kate Middleton. 

Here’s a preview:

Fabergé in Bloom Gala Preview

Wednesday, Oct. 19, 7–10 p.m.

Lecture by Shane Connolly

Thursday, Oct. 20, 10:00 a.m.

Edible Flowers, Amuse Restaurant

Thursday, Oct. 20, 3:00 p.m.

Interpretive Flower Arranging

Saturday, Oct. 22, 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Flowers in Fashion Luncheon and Show

Saturday, Oct. 22, noon

Admission to the museum is free. Some events require tickets. For a complete schedule, go to

More about Fabergé at the VMFA

After four years on an international tour, the largest public Fabergé collection outside of Russia will return to its home at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond Oct. 22 and remain on display permanently. The new Fabergé and Russian Decorative Arts exhibit features five new galleries with interactive enhancements, including a mobile application and touchpads that allow visitors to create and share their own attempts at Fabergé design.

The Fabergé and Russian Decorative Arts collection is one of the VMFA’s oldest and most celebrated. Donated in 1947 by Lillian Thomas Pratt, the collection contains 167 actual Fabergé productions and hundreds of additional pieces of Russian décor, including so-called “Fauxbergé” works, which imitated the Russian firm’s renowned craftsmanship but are, in fact, not authentic. The curators of the VMFA, in partnership with preeminent Fabergé scholar Dr. Geza von Habsburg, undertook a two-year study to sort out these reproduction pieces and incorporated the forgeries into the history of the collection itself.

The new exhibit centers around five Imperial Eggs. These are among only 43 surviving creations crafted by Peter Carl Fabergé and his company as Easter presents for the families of two Russian Tsars, Alexander III and Nicholas II. Admission is free.

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