VMFA open to changing controversial sign plan

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMONVD, VA (WWBT) - There's been some controversy over a proposed sign out in front of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Some neighbors don't like the idea of an LED board highlighting exhibits at the museum. Now the museum says it's open to changing its plans.

The museum says it's heard the complaints of some neighbors that an electronic sign wouldn't fit in the area. That's why Tuesday night the museum is hosting a public forum about the sign. The museum still wants the LED sign, but says it's prepared to change its plans if needed.

Alex Nyergers is the director of the museum. He says a fine art museum isn't the kind of place that would want a tacky sign.

"It's going to be beautiful," he said. "It's not going to be flashing, it's not going to be changing all the time. It's going to be a work of art that just happens to be electronic."

But there are concerns about how a modern sign would fit in an older, historic neighborhood like the museum district.

Denny Fox has lived a few blocks from the museum for 15 years. He doesn't want to see an electronic sign at the museum.

"Most residents have really tried to maintain the historical flavor of the neighborhood," Fox said. "That particular type of sign doesn't really fit in well."

Now the museum is looking at possible alternatives. One being what's called a Duratran. A backlit piece of colored film much like ads inside the Richmond International Airport. This idea doesn't sit well with some neighbors either.

"It's still out of character," Fox said. "It's backlit. If you look along the Boulevard, you see no other backlit signs."

The museum says the sign will be similar to its recent $150-million addition.

"We've invested in a very modern chrome and glass structure," Nyergers said. "So if there's an intrusion, we're standing in it right now."

The Duratran signs would be more expensive and need to be replaced several times a year, each sign costing roughly a thousand dollars.

If you want to go to the public forum Tuesday, it starts at 6 p.m. in the Reynolds Lecture Hall inside the VMFA.

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