A rainy afternoon was the perfect opportunity to take in the glistening new Virginia Museum of History & Culture on Saturday as it welcomed all to see the fruits of a $ 30 million renovation and expansion project.
The biggest renovation project in the museum’s history, the changes provide 50% more exhibit space for both long-term galleries and changing galleries, plus several new areas, including a cafe, an interactive play area for children, an orientation theater offering 15-minute films that serve as a Virginia history lesson and much more.
Just walking into the bright, expansive entrance area wowed Midlothian residents Jim and Cathy Johnson on Saturday morning. They last visited the museum several years ago.
The Virginia Museum of History & Culture is reopening this weekend after a $ 30 million r…
“You wouldn’t even know it’s the same building – it’s very impressive,” Jim Johnson said about the new entrance area, where ceilings were raised and large windows added to afford lots of natural light. They’d been there for two hours, he said, but it still wasn’t enough time to take in all the sights.
People are also reading…
“It’s overwhelming – you’d have to spend an entire weekend here if you want to read everything,” he said. The Johnsons said they particularly enjoyed the “The Lost Cause: Myths, Monuments, & Murals” exhibit.
The exhibit features a reinterpretation of Charles Hoffbauer’s large-scale military murals, among the few pieces of Civil War artwork on public view in the country. The exhibit revisits the murals, examining how they played a part in the Lost Cause, an effort by former Confederates after the Civil War to justify and glorify the Confederacy. The room also contains the newly acquired sculpture of Robert E. Lee, which was previously on view at the US Capitol.
“The exhibits are very clear and thorough,” Jim Johnson said. “I’d highly recommend it to anybody who’s interested in history in the state.”
Vinnette Morrison, who moved to Richmond six months ago from Maryland, said she loves history and she was drawn to Richmond to learn more about the city and its place in Virginia and the nation from a historic perspective.
“When I came here, I knew Virginia history but I was curious – I wanted to see both sides,” she said. From her experience Saturday at the museum, “I’ve learned a lot.”
Hailey Fenner, manager of digital learning, said in spending time near the children’s area, she heard from parents who were thankful that the museum incorporated a space for their children.
“They were so excited,” she said, and “every time I go in, there’s energy and noise and people playing.”
Festivities continue Sunday with live music from Bit Ritmo, plus food trucks, a bounce house, arts and crafts activities and face painting. Admission is free.
Tracy Schneider, vice president for marketing and communications, said leading up to this weekend, “You don’t know what to expect – you’ve been closed for so long.”
But as a steady crowd milled around the new museum spaces, she said, “I just see happy faces.”
PHOTOS: Virginia Museum of History & Culture grand re-opening