The Chrysler Museum of Art Has a Long History of Bringing Couples and Families Together With its Interactive Artistic Atmosphere

Women's Dating

The Chrysler Museum of Art Has a Long History of Bringing Couples and Families Together With its Interactive Artistic Atmosphere

Suzanne Wentley Suzanne Wentley
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The Short Version: From interactive glassblowing classes to gallery talks with curators, the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, features plenty of creative ways to keep date nights fresh. Couples can wander the museum hand in hand and view works created by some of the most famous artists in the world — for free. The museum also manages two historic — and romantic — homes nearby that are perfect for exploring the past. The down-to-earth vibe at the Chrysler Museum of Art makes for a relaxed date, easy conversation, and deeper connection.

There’s something undoubtedly sexy about glassblowing. It takes focus, skill, and creativity — mixed with the dangerous element of molten glass — to create vases, ornaments, or sculptures that swirl with colors and patterns in translucent designs. When my glass working friends show me their work, I’m always impressed by their designs and, on occasion, the scars on their legs from when bits of glass succumbed to gravity.

Appreciating art together is unlike any other experience when it comes to discovering the worldview of friends and potential partners. Whenever I find myself in a new town — or meeting a new romantic interest — I often visit a local art museum to see its collection of interesting works by painters, sculptors, and artists.

In Norfolk, Virginia, the Chrysler Museum of Art is a date destination with more than 30,000 pieces of art and its own glass studio. Its glass collection is among the best in the nation and gives couples an opportunity to enjoy glass designs that balance the fragility of the medium with sultry movement and beauty.

Photo of the exterior of the Chrysler Museum of Art

Couples can easily strike up a meaningful conversation at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

A date at the Chrysler Museum of Art doesn’t cost visitors anything, so you’ll still have plenty of money to continue your date night after enjoying works by some of the biggest names in the art world.

“This year marks the Chrysler Museum’s 85th anniversary, and we are dedicated to bringing art and people together and making art accessible to everyone,” said Meredith Gray, Director of Communications at the museum. “One of the primary ways we do that is through free admission. This means visitors can spend an hour — or the entire day — with us and come back as often as they like. The Chrysler is always changing with exciting exhibitions, classes, and other fun activities. So we always have something new to see or do.”

Built By Local Art Lovers Through the Decades

In the late 1800s, Irene Leache and Anna “Annie” Cogswell Wood began building the arts community in Norfolk through group discussins, poetry readings, and other events. When Leache died, Wood established the Leache Memorial Fund, which sparked the establishment of the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences in 1933.

The Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences changed its name to The Chrysler Museum of Art in 1971, in honor of Walter Chrysler, Jr., the son of the famous car company’s founder, who moved his art collection from Massachusetts to Norfolk.

Walter donated 10,000 works of art to the museum. But, prior to that, he had traded along for significant pieces of artwork that are now on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and elsewhere. Today, the Chrysler Museum of Art is considered to have one of the best collections in the nation for a facility of its size.

Photo of the interior of the Chrysler Museum of Art

Walter Chrysler, Jr. donated 10,000 items to the museum which was soon renamed in his honor.

“As one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized museums, the Chrysler is the home to a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects — including one of the greatest glass collections in America,” Meredith said. “The core of our collection comes from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects. The Museum expanded in 2014 to add gallery spaces for its growing collection and amenities for visitors. We also mount an ambitious schedule of visiting exhibits and educational programs each season.”

The State-Of-The-Art Glass Studio Can Add Fire to Any Date

For an exciting date, plan on arriving at the Perry Glass Studio around noon Tuesdays through Sundays, when the staff offers free glassmaking demonstrations, which may even inspire you and your special someone to sign up for a class.

“The Chrysler’s Glass Studio team is a fun and eclectic group. Their infectious personalities, performances, and skill for making anything out of glass always draw a crowd and leave visitors wanting more,” Meredith said.

The narrated demonstrations provide an exciting introduction into the world of glass art. The Glass Studio also offers classes for everyone — from beginners to professionals — and couples can take a class together.

Photo of a glass art class at the Chrysler Museum of Art

Glass art exhibitions and classes are great ways to keep passions burning in a relationship.

“A demonstration could spur you to sign up for a workshop or class where you and your date could create something,” Meredith said. “Couples can spend an hour or two with us or devote the entire weekend to making something wonderful together.”

If you don’t have time to see a glassblowing demonstration during the day, you can swing by the museum early in the week to pick up a pair of tickets to the museum’s popular Third Thursday evening events. This after-hours date night combines glassmaking performances, live music, and a cash bar — and with $5 tickets, the events usually sell out quickly.

Exhibits are Curated to Make Art Accessible and Engaging

Among the museum’s interesting upcoming exhibits is a photography display by Brazilian artist and photographer Vik Muniz, designed to get couples talking.

“Muniz works with a dizzying array of unconventional materials — including sugar, tomato sauce, diamonds, magazine clippings, chocolate syrup, dust, and junk — to painstakingly design narrative subjects before recording them with his camera,” Meredith said. “His resulting photographs are often iconic images from popular culture and the history of art. They defy easy classification and playfully engage a viewer’s process of perception.”

Photo of couple strolling through a gallery at the Chrysler Museum of Art

Walking through the galleries at the Chrysler Museum of Art can bring daters closer together.

If you or your date need a primer on discussing art, the museum offers a free gallery talk with curators at 2 p.m. from Tuesday through Sunday, during which they explore American and European artwork.

“Multiple Modernisms is a visitor favorite and features modern and contemporary art from our collection. The Chrysler’s changing exhibitions invite couples to visit the Museum time and again,” Meredith said.

The museum also manages two historic homes nearby on Freemason Street that can pique any history buff’s interest. Stop by the Willoughby-Baylor House, which was the long-time home of the Norfolk History Museum, and the Moses Myers House, the oldest Jewish home in America, for a glimpse of 18th- and 19th-century architecture, elegant gardens, and more art displays.

Visitors Say a Trip to the Chrysler Museum is an Affordable and Memorable Date

Before visitors leave the museum, they are encouraged to stop by the response station, which is stocked with paper and colored pencils. It’s a place to not only leave feedback about your museum experience but also to write your special someone a note about how you feel, Meredith said.

“Many use that space to profess their love for one another, and the response station is filled with hearts and affectionate messages,” she said. “We recently had a visitor remark that the best first date she has ever been on began at our museum. She described how romantic it felt to be in the museum during an after-hours event. It not only brought her and her date closer together, but it ignited her passion for art and history.”

Thanks to the free admission, dates can continue at the museum’s Wisteria Café or even with a stop into the gift shop to pick up a souvenir to remember each other.

“Our staff loves to hear feedback because it shows that our museum is facilitating dialogue and encouraging people to explore new subjects,” Meredith said.