Past Exhibitions

The Virginia Man: Respect, Responsibility, Rebellion

Closed on January 29, 2017

Do clothes really make the man? The history of Virginia is a complex one. So, too, is the character of the Virginia man. Stories of respect, responsibility and rebellion, preserved in the wardrobes and accessories of prominent and little-known Virginians, were on display in galleries dedicated to an exploration of public and private character of the Virginia man.

Presented by Peter Blair


Faces of Freedom, Stories of Service

Closed on November 20, 2016 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute

This collaborative project with Richmond photographer Mark Mitchell explores local military veterans' service through portraiture and oral histories. Subjects share their stories in conflicts from World War II to the present day and reflect on how these experiences have shaped their lives and values.

Sponsored by Dominion Resources, Inc.


A Chicken in Every Plot

Closed on September 5, 2016
Online exhibition coming soon! 

Featuring the work of nationally-known Richmond photographer Alyssa C. Salomon, this exhibition examines the resurging practice of keeping backyard chickens and how our relationship with food sources continues to evolve. A Chicken in Every Plot includes portraits of Richmond-area urban and suburban chickens and the yards in which they thrive, an homage to the quintessential deviled egg, plus household objects and historic photographs from the Valentine's collection.


Edith Shelton’s Richmond

Closed on May 8, 2016 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute.

Explore Richmond’s neighborhoods through amateur photographer Edith Shelton’s mid-20th century imagery.


In Gear: Richmond Cycles

Closed on January 3, 2016
Online exhibition coming soon!

There’s no question Richmond is a cyclists’ town. This exhibition is a uniquely-Valentine take on the history of cycling in Richmond from the 19th century to the present day


Classical Allure: Richmond Style

Closed on January 31, 2016
Online exhibition coming soon!

For the inaugural exhibition in the new Nathalie L. Klaus and Reynolds Family Galleries, the Valentine introduces classically inspired treasures from its remarkable collection of costume and textiles. The exhibition explores themes personified by Libertas, Ceres, Virtus, and Aeternitas, the four Roman goddesses that adorn the Virginia state seal, in an examination of the classical forms that endure in Richmond fashion.


Beard Wars

Closed on November 29, 2015 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute

On view during the final year of the American Civil War’s sesquicentennial commemoration, Beard Wars features local photographer Terry Brown’s portraits of members of the RVA Beard League, inspired by images of Civil War generals in the Valentine’s collection.



Closed on June 28, 2015

A collaborative exhibition involving a variety of local cultural and educational institutions brings to light the history and current challenges facing Church Hill from the perspective of its residents.

Full audio recordings and transcripts of the oral histories are available online.

A History of Richmond in 50 Objects

Closed October 20, 2013 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute

“A History of Richmond in 50 Objects” explores the history of Richmond, Virginia, through a selection of objects from the Valentine collection.  Paying homage to “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” the ground-breaking partnership of the British Museum and BBC Radio 4 in 2010 that focused on world history, this exhibition continues the dialogue in a way that is uniquely Richmond. From an 1819 imprint of John Smith’s 1624 Map of Virginia to the rainbow flag that flew at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in 2011, “RVA 50” examines how objects contain layers of meaning that are both personal and public.

  1. John Smith Map of Virginia
  2. William Byrd Lottery Ticket
  3. Low Boy Dressing Table
  4. Patrick Henry’s Storebook
  5. James Armistead Lafayette Portrait
  6. Dr. John Peter LeMayeur Suit
  7. General George Washington Portrait
  8. View of Richmond Painting
  9. Thomas Jefferson Statue
  10. Gabriel Prosser Scratchboard
  11. Richmond Virginia Print
  12. Thomas Callendine Boushall Portrait
  13. Mrs. Joseph Marx Portrait
  14. Richmond Theatre Fire Sampler
  15. John Wickham Portrait
  16. Tall-Case Clock
  17. The Noble James Photograph
  18. Richmond City Hall Diorama
  19. Tredegar Iron Works Bench
  20. Charles Dickens Travel Map
  21. Medical College of Virginia Commemorative Plate
  22. City of Richmond Ordinances Book
  23. Martha Crane Heath & Jennie Wilson Heath Portrait
  24. Aunt Betsy Portrait
  25. Flogger
  26. Confederate Sword
  27. Abraham Lincoln Bust
  28. Mourning Gown
  29. Richmond Calamity Print
  30. Old City Hall Stereograph
  31. Old Chief Smokum Statue
  32. Readjusters Broadside
  33. Maggie Walker Historic Site Fan
  34. Loetz Vase
  35. Lila Meade Valentine Suffrage Bandolier
  36. John Murchie Portrait
  37. Victor-Victrola
  38. Cabinet Radio
  39. Martha Denham Portrait
  40. Shirley Temple Doll
  41. Philco Television
  42. Welcome to Richmond Poster
  43. Richmond Tourism Film
  44. Eleanor Parker Sheppard Portrait
  45. Betty Bunnell Bauder Pantsuit
  46. Ella Gordon Valentine Miniatures Cabinet
  47. L. Douglas Wilder Inaugural Suit
  48. La Siesta Sign
  49. Qi Pao Gown
  50. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Pride Flag
  51. Ukrop's Supermarket Valued Customer Card

Framing Richmond: Recent Photography Acquisitions

Closed October 20, 2013

For over 160 years, Richmonders have expressed themselves, documented the city and commemorated special occasions through the medium of photography. From the most formal studio portrait to a candid snapshot, photographs capture details about who we are and what we think about our city. The Valentine preserves more than one million images. The collection spans the history of photographic technology from daguerreotypes to digital. “Framing Richmond: Recent Photography Acquisitions” showcases some of the images collected by the museum during the past five years.


Discovering Collections, Making Connections

Closed October 20, 2013

This exhibit highlights the extensive and diverse collection of books, costumes, documents, drawings, furniture, glass, household items, paintings, photographs and textiles that are being preserved and used at the Valentine.  Displays of interesting museum collections and individual pieces give the visitor a unique glimpse of our collective past. Current rotations are:

School Days

These artifacts explore the experiences of public and private school students in Richmond. Objects date from the 1880s to the 1960s and chronicle how students, teams, schools, and student activities have continued to change.

Let’s Party!

Who doesn’t love to dress up for a party? Let's Party! features garments worn by Richmonders to various social events. Exhibit highlights include a dress made entirely of paper donned in 2010 for the reopening of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; an evening gown worn to a ball in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette’s visit to Virginia in 1824; and a tuxedo jacket made from fabric printed with Richmond Times-Dispatch articles.

Holt Tobacco Collection

This rotation features an assortment of items from the Holt Tobacco Collection, including tobacco tins, advertisements, tools, books and cigarette cards. It was collected by Bernard Stuart “Skip” Holt (1932-2011) and donated to the Museum recently by his wife Carol A. Holt.


Virginia First Ladies Portraits

Closed September 8, 2013

First Lady Maureen McDonnell unveiled portraits of all ten living Virginia First Ladies in October 2011. Of the ten, four remain on view in the Executive Mansion, four are currently on view at the Valentine, and the remaining two can be viewed at the Library of Virginia. They are displayed in honor of the contributions each of these women has made to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The First Ladies have consistently supported their husbands, have taken on special initiatives and projects, volunteered countless hours, served as hostess to Virginia’s honored guests, and maintained the Executive Mansion as an historic but active home. Mrs. McDonnell’s support of the portrait project is her way of honoring each of these women’s contributions. The life portraits were painted by five Virginia female artists and were funded by Altria and Dominion, and through the support of Minds Wide Open, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Portraits included:

Susan Allen, by Nancy Mauck
Katherine Godwin, by Loryn Brazier
Maureen McDonnell, by Loryn Brazier
Lynda Robb, by Julia Williams
Jeannie Baliles, by Nahid Neff
Virginia “Jinks” Holton, by Christy Talbott
Lisa Collis, by Nancy Mauck
Edwina “Eddy” Dalton, by Julia Williams
Roxane Gilmore, by Nahid Neff
Anne Holton, by Christy Talbott


New Acquisition Highlights

Closed October 20, 2013

Collecting lies at the heart of the Valentine's activities, advancing its mission to inform and delight our audiences, and to study and care for artifacts documenting the region’s past and present. New acquisitions span the centuries and Richmond’s many communities, building on existing strengths while also launching the museum into new areas.

In the Rotunda Gallery, we are highlighting acquisitions recently added to our fine art and decorative art collections.

Featured Objects Include:

Compote, circa 1875
Wedgwood, Etruria, England
Gift of Sara Belle November, 2013

Mary Love Scott, 1809
Cephas Thompson (1775-1856)
Oil on canvas, original frame
Museum Purchase, 2013

Storage Jar, circa 1860
Keesee & Parr, Richmond, Virginia
Salt-glazed stoneware
Museum Purchase funded by Keith Kissee, 2013

The Panel (SECAC Meeting), 1971 
Theresa Pollak (1899-2002)
Ink on paper
Gift of Dominion Resources Services, Inc., 2013

Cream Jug and Sugar Bowl, 1820s
William Mitchell, Richmond, Virginia
Coin silver
Gift of Margaret and David McClung of Salem, Virginia.


Settlement to Streetcar Suburbs: Richmond and Its People

Closed September 2013

This exhibit surveys three centuries of Richmond's history, from the time of its settlers to its emergence as a commercial and capital city. Biographies of prominent figures from Powhatan to Maggie Walker enhance this overview of the city's economic, political and social history.


Wickham House 200: Inspiring New Art Two Centuries Later

Closed April 2013 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute 

The Wickham House is a spectacular example of 19th century neoclassic architecture and displays some of the country's finest examples of interior decorative painting.  Today, the house and its contents continues to foster artistic creation.  Students from the nationally recognized Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts have created site-specific works of art inspired and informed by its architecture and history.  This innovative project allows the visitor to investigate new interpretive approaches for historic houses.  The exhibit explores contemporary responses to the House in a variety of media and disciplines.  Look for these original masterpieces in the front hall, the parlor, the drawing room, upstairs and in the basement.  We hope that these works of art inspire you.


History, Ink: The Tattoo Archive Project

Closed March 2013 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute

This exhibition focuses on the rising popularity of body art, specifically tattoos, broadly in American culture and locally in Richmond. In 2010, NBC’s “The Today Show” listed Richmond as the third most tattooed city in the United States, citing the city’s high number of tattoo shops per capita. This year the Valentine partnered with local photographer Terry Brown to document locally-made tattoos.


"I am well and war is Hell": Richmond During the World Wars

Closed January 2013

Curated from all of the Valentine’s collecting areas, the exhibit tells the story of Richmond residents who fought both at home and abroad to advance the American cause. “I am well and war is Hell” explores the sacrifices made by Richmond residents, the role of women at home and in the service and the innovative ways people coped with life during wartime. This exhibit is the third in a series of exhibitions focused on 20th century history.


Richmond Comes Together: Images of Community Outreach

Closed September 2012 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute

This photograph exhibit features images of the various local and national organizations that provide social services and advocate for members of the Richmond community. Highlights of the show include examples of late 19th and 20th century efforts to fight poverty, homelessness and hunger. The exhibition also documents the local volunteers and philanthropists who have worked to improve child, senior and animal welfare and to provide education, job training and health care.


Into Focus: Henrico County through the Camera

Closed March 2012 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute

An exploration of Henrico County’s history on the 400thanniversary of its founding, this photography exhibition includes images taken in Henrico from the 19th century to the present. Drawing upon the photograph collections of both the Valentine and Henrico County, “Into Focus” chronicles how times have changed architectural and culturally throughout the county. Originally named Henricus, Henrico was settled by the Virginia Company in 1611, making it the second English settlement in North America. The exhibition documents the county’s five districts of Brookland, Fairfield, Three Chopt, Tuckahoe, and Varina and includes photographs from historic sites such the J.E.B Stuart Monument at Yellow Tavern.


Inaugural Gowns of Virginia's First Ladies

Closed October 2011

This exhibition includes nine gowns worn by Virginia First Ladies to the inaugural balls and receptions held to honor the new governor. These evening dresses present a glimpse into the personal style of each woman and the fashion of the time. Fashion in the state Capitol has followed the major trends of the 20th century. The Virginia First Lady gowns were purchased at local dress shops or department stores, and one was designed by a prominent New York fashion designer.


The "What in the World is Happening in this Photo?!?" Caption Contest Exhibit

Closed October 2011 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute

An exhibition of mid-to-late century images from the Valentine's Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection, as determined by the winners of a caption contest held in February 2011. The public was invited to submit original, creative captions for up to 100 random images from this collection. The winning captions appear alongside their respective photos, along with the actual captions that ran in the Richmond Newspapers, in an exhibition on view concurrently at the Valentine and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.


Manchester: From Sister City to South Richmond

Closed February 2011 but currently available on Google Cultural Institute

Originally incorporated as a town in 1769, Manchester developed into an independent city directly south of Richmond across the James River and was incorporated into the City of Richmond in 1910. An early center of shipping and the slave trade, Manchester also was home to numerous mills and factories. Its main thoroughfare Hull Street developed into the area’s commercial core, serving the surrounding suburbs of Spring Hill, Blackwell, Forest Hill, Bainbridge, Woodland Heights and Swansboro.


Waste Not, Want Not: Richmond's Great Depression, 1929-1941

Closed September 2010

This exhibition demonstrates life in Richmond during the Great Depression, which lasted from October 1929 until the U.S. entered World War II. In the midst of calamity, Richmond residents joined other Americans in an explosion of political, organizational and cultural creativity. Several important local businesses, organizations and cultural institutions were established during this period.

Closed March 2010 but currently avaliable on Google Cultural Institute 

This photography exhibition explores Richmond’s 20th century theater community, examining playhouses and movie theaters, professional and amateur actors, and memorable events and personalities. Visitors will see images documenting the city’s rich theater history, from the Academy of Music and Biograph Theater to the Little Theatre League and Eddie Weaver. Additional playbills, tickets, posters and other theater memorabilia are located in cases outside of the Stern Gallery.


Serving Richmond, Reaching the World: Greater Richmond Chapter of the American Red Cross

Closed December 2010

The Greater Richmond Chapter of the American Red Cross was established in 1917 to assist the needs of the community during World War I and has continued to be a vital part of the Richmond’s service community. From its work with servicemen and disabled veterans, the Red Cross has grown to include disaster preparedness and recovery, life safety, first aid and community service. This exhibition features volunteer uniforms, including Nurses and Motor Corp volunteers, as well as clothing worn by volunteers in New York City on September 11, 2001. Visitors also will see posters, photographs, service pins and documents.


Stop, Drop, and Roll: Firefighting in 20th Century Richmond

Closed March 2009 but avaliable on Google Cultural Institute

Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the Richmond Fire Department, this photography exhibition examines firefighting, public safety and fire disasters in 20th century Richmond,Virginia.


Battle for the City: the Politics of Race 1950-1970

Closed September 2009

With stunning imagery and artifacts, the History Center revisits citywide conflicts over integration, civil rights, urban planning, transportation and political representation.

Closed September 2009 but currently avaliable on Google Cultural Institute 

Bordered by Cary and Belvidere Streets to the north and east and Oregon Hill Parkway and Hollywood Cemetery to the south and west, Oregon Hill was settled in the 1840s by immigrant ironworkers and developed into a tight-knit working class neighborhood. Using images from the History Center's collection, the exhibition traces the development of the neighborhood’s residents, businesses, institutions and preservation challenges.