Virginia Museum of History & Culture
Virginia Museum of History & Culture:
A New Name for One of the Commonwealth’s Oldest Institutions
The Virginia Historical Society was established in 1831 and has operated as such for the past 187 years. But, this year marks a big change for one of the Commonwealth’s oldest cultural institutions. Moving forward, its Boulevard headquarters will be called the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
“We may be the Commonwealth’s oldest cultural institution, and one of the most distinguished history organizations in the country, but we are ready for meaningful change and progress—to do more and be more for the people of Virginia and beyond,” said President and CEO, Jamie O. Bosket. “We believe that our new museum name will encourage visitation, be more welcoming, and better articulate our chief purpose.”
The new name will be officially announced at a WWI Centennial Gala, with special remarks by the Honorable Ralph Northam, 73rd Governor of Virginia. Board members and representatives from peer institutions will attend, as well as representatives from the current lead exhibition sponsor, The Boeing Company.
Mr. Bosket explained that the new name does not replace the organization’s historic identity; Virginia Historical Society will live on as the name of the parent organization under which membership will remain as well as its premier research library, newly named museum, and renowned 9-million-item history collection. The Virginia Museum of History & Culture is intended to create a fresh and effective means of fulfilling the mission: connecting people to America’s past through the unparalleled story of Virginia. The hope is that the new name will convey a more welcoming persona that will help promote visitation and attract a new and more inclusive generation of history lovers.
The name change was resoundingly reinforced by several months of thoughtful research. The institution polled thousands of members and non-members, talked with partner organizations across the state, consulted with staff and the Board of Trustees, and conducted extensive industry and audience analyses. All insights pointed to the solution—start calling the building what it is, a museum, but also keep Virginia Historical Society as the overarching identity. Members were notified of the new name earlier this month and the public will begin seeing the transition over the next few weeks.
The Story of Virginia
This newly renovated 10,500 square-foot exhibition interprets 16,000 years of Virginia history and features more than 500 artifacts, maps, letters, and diaries ranging from the earliest stone tools shaped by humans to a satellite built by high school students in 2013. Objects in the exhibition are supplemented by images from the VHS collection, soundscapes, video, and digital and hands-on interactives. Learn More
Changing Styles: 300 Years of Virginia Art and Design
How should a politician be depicted in a portrait? In what pose should a woman of fashion be painted? What form should a chair or a silver cup take? The choices are limitless.
For centuries, artists and patrons have searched for the manner of visual expression—the style—that best suit their vision of themselves and their era. Artistic movements resulted that engulfed the various forms of expression—painting, sculpture, interior design, decoration, and architecture—and brought them into harmony with one another.
Styles tend to progress from—or react against—a preceding style. Learn More
Landscapes of Virginia
The geography of Virginia has shaped the history of the state and the nation. A mild climate and navigable rivers attracted Native Americans and the first European settlers to the Tidewater. Fertile soil fueled a prosperous economy, and the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers that feed it connected Virginia and its agricultural products to the world. The landscapes of the Piedmont, Valley, and Blue Ridge inspired Thomas Jefferson's vision of a virtuous rural society. Virginia's importance and location midway between North and South brought the federal capital to the banks of the Potomac and made it the bloodiest battleground of the Civil War. The harbor of Hampton Roads allowed military buildup in the twentieth century and the export of coal and lumber from both southwestern counties of the Valley and the Appalachian Plateau. Geography continues to play a pivotal role in Virginia's politics, society, and economy. Learn More
Arming the Commonwealth
People have relied on weapons to advance both their best and worst impulses—to put food on the table, to protect themselves, to enforce or defy the law, to defend or conquer territory and treasure, or to liberate some while enslaving others. This exhibition features weapons and accoutrements from the Virginia Historical Society’s collection crafted in Virginia or used by its people to achieve those goals. Learn More
Charles Hoffbauer: "Painter of Historical Murals"
Charles Hoffbauer: "Painter of Historical Murals" is a visual display detailing the process by which Charles Hoffbauer produced the Memorial Military Murals and the three-year effort to restore them. Learn More
Silver in Virginia
Early English colonists arrived in Virginia with a love of all things silver. A rich display of silver expressed an owner's wealth and power as well as their taste and refinement. Learn More
Virginia Historical Society to Commemorate WWI Centennial in 2018
Major Exhibitions and Programming Will Explore The Great War’s Impact on America
The Virginia Historical Society will host one of the largest commemoration programs for the centennial of World War I (1914 to 1918). In a conflict that redefined the world, our nation, and the Commonwealth, more than 100,000 Virginians served and nearly 4,000 lost their lives. To remember this critical time during an important anniversary, the VHS will welcome a major exhibition, WW1 America—the largest traveling show about the Great War in the nation. The exhibit will open on February 17, 2018, and the VHS will be the only WW1 America venue on the east coast.
“This timely exhibition on WWI reflects a crucial and defining time in our nations’ history as well as that of the Commonwealth,” said VHS president and CEO Jamie O. Bosket. “This expansive and immersive exhibit, and the multitude of programs we will feature along with it, will be history rich and deeply moving.”
Hundreds of original artifacts and important personal narratives in WW1 America tell the story of the war overseas, and its dramatic impact on the home front. Items such as President Woodrow Wilson’s hat and cane, baseball legend Christy Mathewson’s gas mask, and a helmet worn by Latin American activist José de la Luz Sáenz will be displayed. Major factors that influenced Americans, such as the sinking of the Lusitania, threats to U.S. commercial shipping by German U-boats, and the infamous Zimmerman telegram will be represented. Minor legacies like sunglasses, cigarettes, safety zones, wristwatches, brassieres, and passports will also be featured. Special elements include an interactive display for visitors to explore the variety and quantity of U.S. products shipped overseas; a recreated movie house showing popular films of the period; and an IQ station where guests can take the first-ever written intelligence test given to recruits to select candidates for officer training. Important and timely nation-changing movements will also be covered, including the prohibition of alcohol and women’s struggle for the right to vote.
Joining this large-scale exhibit will be one of the society’s own making that will highlight the specific role of Virginia and Virginians in the war, showcasing dozens of artifacts from its own collections. Visitors will see a Red Cross uniform worn by Carrie Triplett Taliaferro Scott of Richmond; the naval uniform worn by Walter Alfred Clayton, Jr., of Crewe, who served on the U.S.S. Batjan—a Dutch freighter used by the U.S. Navy to transport ordnance to France; and the helmet and goggles of Air Corps pursuit pilot Walter S. Robertson, born in Nottoway County, who, after his service in the Great War, served his country from high level appointments in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps and U.S. State Department.
In addition, the VHS will coordinate a statewide veteran memorial project to honor the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives during this global conflict. Tributes to these fallen heroes will adorn the front of the museum from early 2018 through the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day on November 11, 2018.
WW1 America was produced by the Minnesota Historical Society in partnership with the National Constitution Center, the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum. The exhibit has been made possible in part by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.
The Commonwealth and the Great War tells stories of individual Virginians who carried the state’s proud military tradition to the battlefront. 100,000 of them served; 3,700 died. Many more were injured. 39% of the draftees in 1918 were African Americans. Hundreds of Virginia nurses and doctors followed soldiers to Europe. In this new exhibit, visitors will see a Red Cross uniform worn by Carrie Triplett Taliaferro Scott of Richmond; the naval uniform worn by Walter Alfred Clayton, Jr., of Crewe, who served on the U.S.S. Batjan—a Dutch freighter used by the U.S. Navy to transport ordnance to France; and the helmet and goggles of Air Corps pursuit pilot Walter S. Robertson, born in Nottoway County, who, after his service in the Great War, served his country from high level appointments in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps and U.S. State Department.