A woman’s loyalty to her hometown resulted in Norfolk’s having a world-class art museum. Walter P. Chrysler Jr., son of the automobile company founder, donated a significant portion of his large art collection to the art museum in Norfolk in 1971.
“That is why it is called the Chrysler, ”said Joe Bishop, a guide at the Chrysler Museum of Art. “His wife was from Norfolk.”
The alumni of an early-20th-century seminary founded the museum in 1933. Although the Chrysler Museum’s 32,000 pieces of art represent every period of Western art, it is especially known for its large collection of glass.
“We’ve been told we have the second- or third-best collection in the United States,” said Bishop. “All of it was from Chrysler.”
The Chrysler is currently closed for a major renovation and expansion and is scheduled to reopen in the spring of 2014. In addition to replacing outdated heating and cooling systems, the $24 million expansion will add two new wings, an expanded cafe and Wi-Fi access in every gallery.
“It will add significantly to our gallery space,” said Bishop. “It will extend from both sides.”
A year-old glass studio across the street from the main building where you can see glassblowing demonstrations remains open.