A Timeline of Art & Culture in Norfolk
Lindsey Lanham | A&E Editor
There’s no denying that the art and culture scene in Norfolk is a prominent one. Featuring music venues, art galleries and theatres, the city has definitely grown into its own in terms of art. Here is a timeline of how the art scene really began to take place.
The NorVa Theatre (Originally opened in 1922)
Located on 317 Monticello Ave., The NorVa has not always been used as a concert venue. It originally started out as a movie theater. It stayed that way until the 1970’s where it became home to the Downtown Athletic Club until 1998. The theatre reopened in 2000 as a music venue.
At a capacity of 1,450, the small venue has hosted some of the largest acts that music has to offer. Prince played to a sold out crowd at The NorVa in 2001. The theatre was fan voted as the best music venue in Rolling Stone in 2013. The venue is notorious for not only bringing big name artists but also having a hot tub in the green room.
Chrysler Museum of Art (Originally opened in 1933)
The Chrysler Museum of Art, located at One Memorial Place Norfolk, started out as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. The original idea started between two women. Irene Leache and Anna Wood ran an all-girls school until Leache decided to return to Europe and retire. Wood then opened up a library in Leache’s honor and started to collect art in the hopes of opening up a future museum. Finally, in the 1920’s the Norfolk Society of Arts helped make that dream come true and with their donations, the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences came to be.The museum adopted the name “Chrysler Museum of Art” after Walter Chrysler, Jr. donated his largest art collection to the museum.
The Chrysler Museum has undergone many renovations since its initial opening. Today, though, it houses a variety of art. From glass sculptures to modern art, the museum has one of the finest collections Norfolk has to offer. The Washington Post once wrote, “The Chrysler Museum is widely counted among the top museums in the country.”
Virginia Stage Company (Originally founded in 1968)
What now resides at the Wells Theatre at 108 E Tazewell Street in downtown Norfolk, the Virginia Stage Company originally started as a group of people looking to bring talented live theatre to the city. The Virginia Stage Company was originally called the Norfolk Theatre Center in 1968. It was only in 1978 after the Board of Trustees decided they wanted a professional theatre, did they adopt the name ‘Virginia Stage Company.”
Showcasing a variety of theatre, this coming year the Virginia Stage Company will show A Christmas Carol, Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash and The ParchMan Hour.
Norfolk Scope Arena (Originally opened in 1971)
What is still today’s largest, reinforced thin shell concrete dome, the Norfolk Scope is one of the more unique buildings in downtown Norfolk. Located at 201 East Brambleton Ave., the arena hosts a variety of events including sporting events, concerts and the circus. Complete with a main arena and multiple meeting rooms, the Norfolk Scope is one of the most diverse entertainment venues in the city.
d’Art Center (Originally opened in 1986)
Another museum for visual arts, the d’Art Center (originally modeled after the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria) is not your typical art museum. It also contains open demonstrations from their resident artists like glass blowing or painting.
d’Art Center was first located at the College Place in downtown Norfolk. After many years, the center has relocated many times but currently resides across from the Chrysler Museum of Art at 740 Duke Street. Free to the general public, d’Art also offers summer camp for kids and various art workshops.
Push Comedy Theatre (Originally Opened in 2014)
Located in the heart of Norfolk’s NEON District at 763 Granby St., the Push Comedy Theatre showcases local and national acts. The comedy club runs cheap, at about $5 a ticket, and every Friday and Saturday host comedy shows ranging from stand-up to improv. The club also features summer workshops and classes for anyone interested in improving their comedy.
Push Comedy was founded by the comedy group, The Pushers, Ed Carden, Sean Devereux, Brad McMurran and Alba Woolard. All members have years of experience in acting and comedy. The Push Comedy Theatre may be a recent addition to the arts culture in Norfolk, but it still remains essential, three short years later.