Founded in 1892 and opened in 1898, the Valentine Museum was the legacy of Mann S. Valentine II who made his collections available to the state and city in order to “preserve and accumulate objects of archaeology, anthropology, and other kindred art and to effect the publication of literary, historical, and scientific papers.” In 1941, the Board of Trustees added to the name of the Museum to the subtitle, “the Museum of the Life and History of Richmond.” Its collections have provided and will continue to provide primary source materials for interpreting the history of Richmond and Virginia.
The Valentine has been an important part of Richmond’s cultural landscape for over 100 years. As a result, it holds a special place in the hearts of many native Richmonders.
My involvement in the Valentine springs from my grandparents love of and dedication to the institution. As Board members and volunteers, they exposed two subsequent generations to many aspects of the institution’s operations from the collections and exhibitions, to Sally Bell's Kitchen and the Valentine Store. They instilled in us the importance of preserving and interpreting local history to the overall strength of a community.
Whereas native Richmonders have a fondness for the Valentine, a challenge for governance is involving non-natives in the mission of the institution. In addition, engaging fast growing minority populations and younger generations in the institution is a continuing challenge.
A recently completed strategic planning process is proactively addressing these challenges head-on, which I am confident will steer the institution to relevance and leadership for future generations.
The Valentine has the largest and most comprehensive
collection of primary source material for interpreting the life and history of
Richmond. The collection of objects aids in the understanding of Richmond
history and relates to the city’s different populations and regions. The collection encompasses over 1.7 million
photograph, prints, manuscripts, ephemera, furniture, industrial artifacts,
costumes, textiles, decorative and fine arts, as well as the 1812 Wickham House
and the Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio. Preservation for future
generations and use of the collection for in-house and online exhibitions,
programs and researchers (residents, scholars, students) is a service and
benefit offered by the Valentine to the community. Public access to the
collection is through an online database or scheduled research appointments on
subjects related to Richmond as well as other broad topics related to southern
and urban history.
Successes for the collection include acquisition of
archival, photographic and three-dimensional materials documenting 20th and 21st century Richmond topics with accompanying resources to
manage their preservation, care and use; improved access to the collection
through increased release of collection material through online database;
additional research hours for onsite collection access; and expanded collection
holdings on Richmond topics of high research value.
The long-term success is the use of the collection as a tool
to aid in achieving greater historical literacy among adults and students.
Through the use of current holdings and the acquisition of new collection
materials for exhibitions and adult, youth and school programs, the community
can become more engaged in their community by learning about its past. Use of the collection for research in
scholarly publications and media productions will place Richmond within the
context of our national story.
Experiencing Richmond history within the context of our
state and national story is the goal of The Valentine’s exhibition
program. The Valentine uses its comprehensive collection to develop
long-term, changing and traveling exhibitions on Richmond’s history. The core exhibition, This Is Richmond, Virginia, offers an overview of the city’s history conveyed through artifacts that tell stories supporting five themes that communicate the community's larger history, while changing galleries offer temporary exhibitions topics such as Edith Shelton's Richmond and A Chicken in Every Plot. Programming for youth
and adults accompanies exhibitions, and school programs utilize galleries and
artifacts for learning opportunities. Future exhibitions will continue to draw
on contemporary themes and the extensive array of artifacts in the collection
that illustrate Richmond’s history.
Successes include increased new and repeat visitation to the
History Center both for exhibitions and associated programming, as well as
donation of artifacts to the collection related
to the history of Richmond.
Long-term successes include increased historical literacy
among adults and students, increased awareness that knowledge of Richmond’s
history can inform decisions made today, growth of collection related to
contemporary topics and the city’s diverse population to be used in future
exhibitions and programming, and increased attendance at exhibitions and
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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