New museum sign stirring controversy

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Chances are you know where the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is if you live in Richmond. But you may not if you're from out of town. Now the museum wants to add an LED sign out in front that's stirring a bit of controversy.

The new LED sign will be placed right out in front. Some say the sign is needed because those driving by on Boulevard have no idea what this building is. Others say the LED sign just doesn't fit with the neighborhood.

These stakes mark where the museum is looking to build a new sign out in front to bring more people inside the museum.

Part of the sign will be an LED screen that will show pictures of art from exhibits on display. Suzanne Hall of the Museum of Fine Arts says the sign will fit in with the area.

"It won't flash," she said. "We occasionally may have rotating posters that display the various exhibitions for view in the museum, but it will be very tasteful."

Fan residents like Barbara Hartung disagree.

"It totally clashes with the historic neighborhood," she said.

She says the sign won't fit into the classic look of the Museum District and nearby Fan neighborhood.

"What the museum is proposing is just totally out of character," Hartung said. "I think in that respect they're being a bad neighbor if they don't respect the character of the neighborhood that they are living in."

The sign will only be on when the museum is open. Museum officials say it's important to promote the latest exhibits to encourage more people to visit.

Others say it will be distracting to drivers and the museum would be better off with a sculpture or other piece of art showing people what's inside.

Crews will start to construct the sign in January and it should be complete by February. It's going to cost between $100,000 and $150,000 to build.

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