The Valentine focuses on the history of a history-filled city

Richmond’s history is vast and diverse, and much of it can be learned at the Valentine Museum.

Located downtown, the current temporary exhibit, Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion is a look into the famed street’s possible future.

Like other southern states, the former Confederate capital, struggles with the controversy of the statues of Confederate officers Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart.

Conducted by Storefront for Community Design and Virginia Commonwealth University’s mOb studio, the exhibit showcases 20 options with an additional 50 rotating on a large screen. The options are from an international design competition among architects, urban planners, designers and individuals. Patrons can vote on which design they feel is best. The idea is to get people talking.

“The aim isn’t to enact any of the proposals, but to instead inspire conversations about where do we go from here as a community?” said Eric V. Steigleder, director of Public Relations and Marketing at the museum.

Another temporary exhibit, Developing Richmond: Photographs from the Cook Studio, has more than 10,000 negatives and prints that document Richmond at the turn of the 20th century.

Photographer George S. Cook came to Richmond in 1880 when the city had a post-Civil War economic boom and construction. At the same time, many people in the city still clung to antebellum society ways.

In addition to the temporary exhibits, a permanent one, This is Richmond, shows artifacts from time gone by. It has furniture, cigarette boxes, dresses and toys. Plenty of written information provides background on the items. A focal point is the pulpit stairs from Monumental Church dating back to the 1890s.

The exhibit also covers neighborhood backgrounds and what was produced in the city. This includes Valentine’s Meat Juice which claimed medicinal purposes.

The Valentine Garden leads to the Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio. Valentine was a prominent sculptor and this exhibit offers a glimpse into the artist and his times. The garden has a small café which is open Monday to Friday.

Signs of the Times, is an ongoing outside exhibit features neon signs from former Richmond businesses. It shows the commercial growth and advertising trends formerly in vogue.

Next to the Valentine is the 1812 Wickham House. A guided tour of the National Historic Landmark gives guests a chance to see what life was like in the early 19th century. Owned by Mann S. Valentine II, it was the first home of the Valentine Museum.

The house showcases Creating History: The Valentine Family and the Creation of a Museum, which shows how the family actually created the museum.

Want to go?

The Valentine

1015 E. Clay St.

Richmond

Open: Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., and major Monday holidays.

Admission is $10 adult, $8 for seniors (age 55 and up) and students with ID. Free for military and children under 18.

Temporary Exhibits

Monument Avenue: General Demotion and General Devotion will be on display until Dec. 1

Developing Richmond: Photographs from the Cook Studio will be on display until Nov. 10.

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