Phase 2 of a $9.61 million update to the Jamestown Settlement museum gallery is on track to begin this fall.
Peter Armstrong, senior director of museum operations and education at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, said the update would be finished by late spring 2019.
It will come just in time for the commemorative ceremony of the first representative legislative assembly, marking the 400th anniversary of the real thing that was held in Jamestown’s church in the summer of 1619. The commemoration will take place July 30, 2019 at both Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement.
Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Board of Trustees member Riley Ingram said during the foundation’s joint meeting of the trustees and the board of directors May 9-10 that the refresh would include expanding the story of Pocahontas, adding a new immersive theater focusing on Bacon’s Rebellion as well as an interactive Legacy Wall. Filming for the movie, Armstrong said, will start in September.
Ingram also noted that the Settlement also will have a gallery emphasizing the 2019 Commemoration, an upgraded entrance and enhance the Three Dwellings area to continue the Bacon’s Rebellion story.
Jamestown Settlement also will feature a reconfigured Government Theater which, along with an area describing how the Virginia colony expanded, will close from November through March 2019. Armstrong said those stories will still exist, but in another space somewhere else at Jamestown Settlement until the work is finished.
“When completed, the Jamestown gallery will be technically and officially up-to-date, with the type of displays that currently can be seen at Yorktown,” Armstrong said. “So it will give the Foundation two world-class museums that I’m sure we can all be proud of.”
Armstrong received final designs for the museum last Friday and they await his approval. From there, work on pre-fabricated elements will begin. In November, more visible work inside the Jamestown Settlement’s main galleries will take place.
Around the same time as the work inside of Jamestown Settlement is to begin, new special exhibition, Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia, will debut. It will run from Nov. 10 through Jan. 5, 2020 and feature little-known personal stories from the Virginia Indian, English and West Central African cultures that show how women played key roles in the founding years of the United States.
By spring 2019, Armstrong expects the new immersive theater to be ready, with the rest of the work to be complete by next May.
There’s hardly a breather between the work that was done to update the former Yorktown Victory Center — now the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, which finished in time for its formal unveiling at the end of March and early April 2017.
As the work in Yorktown was being finished, Armstrong and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation were already in the middle of plans to update Jamestown Settlement. Dr. Bly Straube, who used to work at Historic Jamestowne before coming to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, has been working on the content for Jamestown Settlement for about three years, he said.
“We come off of Yorktown and straight into this one,” Armstrong said. “But it’s coming together. … While we were building Yorktown, we were having meetings about what to put into Jamestown. We kind of dual-tracked the two things.”