State Reconsiders Museum Sign 

A hearing for the VMFA's controversial electronic sign set for Jan. 11.

It's not a done deal after all. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' neighbors will get to say their piece about the electronic sign proposed for the Boulevard.

On Nov. 5, the museum obtained approval from the state Art and Architectural Review Board to install a 15-foot-high sign at its entrance -- a sign that includes a 4-by-8-foot illuminated electronic screen.

Some neighbors were concerned about the sign's appearance and troubled by the speedy approval process. Because the Fan District Association was notified only a day before the review board meeting, its members had no time to meet and discuss the sign plans.

After the hearing, says Fan District Association President Barbara Hartung, the museum told the association that the sign was a done deal. But when state delegates and other political figures -- such as former councilman Bill Pantele and political adviser Charlie Diradour -- stepped in, that proved not to be the case.

Earlier this week, Virginia Secretary of Administration Lisa Hicks-Thomas spoke with state delegates Jennifer McClellan and Manoli Loupassi, whose districts include the Fan and Museum districts. (“A bipartisan effort,” Loupassi says.) Hicks-Thomas decided the community should be given a chance to comment on the project, says governor's office spokeswoman Taylor Thornley. The new hearing is scheduled to be held at the museum Tuesday, Jan. 11.

“I think it's a welcome move,” Hartung says. She intends to email association members and encourage them to attend.

The museum wasn't trying to be “nefarious,” Loupassi says. He spoke with Museum Director Alex Nyerges and explained that neighbors love the museum but just wanted the chance to be heard.

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