I just got back from a wonderful trip to the Commonwealth of Virginia, highlighted by a visit to the Hollywood Costume Exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, great movies at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, a tour of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and wine tastings at the vineyards of Albemarle County.
I’ll be writing more about the costume exhibit, which originated at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and will be open in Richmond until February, when it moves on to Phoenix. This exhibit includes magnificent costumes from Hollywood’s greatest movies including the Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, My Fair Lady, Some Like It Hot, Terminator, Spiderman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Titanic, Gangs of New York, and many, many others.
Besides the beautiful historic costumes there are videos and exhibits about the art of costuming explaining how the costume director helps create the look of the movie and establish the characters. You can see interviews with movie greats like Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro talking about the importance of costumes and see the historic materials that costume directors worked with to get the right look.
And the VMFA has a magnificent collection of art from the classical era to the modern day.
We had a tour of the monuments and architecture of Richmond and visited the Virginia State Capitol, where Spielberg’s Lincoln was filmed. It’s a dead ringer for the US Capitol in Washington because both buildings were designed by Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and our second president.
We visited the beautiful historic Byrd Theater, which is located in the heart of Carytown, a street lined with all kinds of cool shops and cafes and restaurants, including Bygones Vintage Clothing and The Daily Kitchen and Bar, where I enjoyed a memorable plate of seared scall0ps with pomegranate and sweet potato puree.
From there it was off to Charlottesville for the Virginia Film Festival, highlighted by a screening of a great new movie called Nebraska with Bruce Dern and Matt Forte. Forte was on hand to meet the press and answer questions. Another highlight was a screening of Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds, a real trip down memory lane, followed by a Q & A with none other than Tippi Hedren!
We also had time for wine tastings at the scenic vineyards of Albermarle County: the Trump Winery and Blenheim Vineyards, which is owned by Dave Matthews, as well as a trip to Monticello, the mountaintop home of Thomas Jefferson, the author of liberty, not just in the US, but around the world.
I’ll be writing a lot more about this magnificent international landmark, the only private home to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but suffice it to say, it gives more than 500,000 visitors a year a glimpse into the life and times of this remarkable man.
They screen a short film about Jefferson in the visitors’ center, and at end they show excerpts from the many declarations of basic human rights from countries all over the world, dozens and dozens of them, representing liberty for millions and millions of people, all modeled on the document this extraordinary man drafted back in 1776. I have to think that Jefferson would be pleased.