NORFOLK, Va. — Twelve years ago, the Hermitage Museum wanted to raise awareness of its 5,000-piece art collection that spans 5,000 years.
"Idea was to bring people on the grounds of the Hermitage Museum. It used to be sort of this tired, sleepy house, and we've really tried over the years to build it out and welcome people to the Hermitage," says Andrew Cronin, the public programs manager.
Out of this desire, the "Sunsets on the River" concert series was born. Modern bands surrounded by food trucks, nestled between the Lafayette River and a hundred-year-old house containing 5,000 years of history... and dogs are allowed? The idea worked.
"Here in the Hampton Roads region, it's probably one of the main things people know us for. Sunsets on the River is the number one program we've been doing, people know us for it," Cronin reflects on the success.
Then last year, like the rest of the world, COVID struck the mash-up of world history and local music moved online. The series moved online and carried on for the 11th straight year. Viewership on their Facebook live program was solid, but there was something missing. While successful, that virtual setting eliminated the option to step into the past at any moment.
"We do the back and forth really well. It's one of the things we're known for," Cronin said, referring to the juxtaposition of a thriving modern music concert taking place at the foot of a building bursting with history.
That time traveling option returns this Thursday with the first live show since 2019.
"The mashup of having a modern rock band and a rock and roll band and food trucks and beer. But then also stepping back in time to experience our art collection that spans 5,000 years," said Cronin.