After months of preparation and planning, the presents have been opened, the family-filled house is silent, and the refrigerator is full of leftovers that will never be eaten. The days between the Christmas and Hanukah holidays and New Year’s Day are very odd. We find ourselves in that rare quiet moment suspended between the chaos and joy of the holidays and what we know will be a panicked beginning of the year.
It is boxing up the decorations to be neatly put back in the attic. It is pretending that you are working and finding that last bargain. It is also a time filled with anticipation about the challenges of the New Year – anxiety over unfinished work and unfulfilled promises – and memories of the people and events that have filled our lives over the last year.
These emotions of the season seem to be particularly amplified for me. The past year at the Valentine we celebrated the biggest event in our history. It had all the elements of a perfect holiday. Over a decade of planning paid off with a renovation that was completed on time and on budget.
When we unwrapped our newly renovated historic buildings to the community, we unveiled some amazing things – a new lobby, refreshed galleries, a modern education center, and beautiful restrooms.
The coming year will showcase the opening of our first community gallery exhibition, Made in Church Hill on January 22, and the inaugural exhibition in the costume and textile galleries, Classical Allure: Richmond Style on May 3.
Isn’t it great when the presents actually get used?
Our Valentine family (staff, volunteers, and trustees) came together to create memorable events for our friends and supporters. We had great food at all of our events and we skipped the fruitcake.
We celebrated our institutional traditions of community engagement and education. Our education programs have been at capacity this fall and in December we had the largest Court End Christmas celebration on record!
We reaffirmed our name – The Valentine – with brand new marketing and branding.
We also considered our future a created a new strategic plan to guide us.
When we look back, it seems impossible to accomplish all of this in just one year.
Together, we have given a great gift to our city and created a beautiful home with a welcoming living room for the Richmond region.
Yet for me there is a real sense of eagerness and expectation. Our vision of a new museum has been revealed and the excitement of the renovation and reopening is fast becoming a memory. It’s now time to get out of the fog of the celebrations and embrace the energy of the New Year.
It is difficult to imagine a more exciting and demanding year than the past one at the Valentine. Once we recover from this interlude, we know that there is more that we need to do to bring Richmond’s stories to life.
There are objects in our collections that require care and research.
There are new exhibitions and public programs to create.
There are more neighborhoods and topics for our tours to explore.
And there are thousands of people that will discover themselves in the stories of Richmond’s past.
Yes, there are big things left to do. After our experience this year and with your continuing support, we are more than ready for the coming opportunities and challenges of telling Richmond stories.
Thank you joining me and the Valentine on this journey and cheers to a great New Year!
Bill Martin, Director
P.S. It’s never too late to become a Valentine Member and join us for some exciting exhibition openings, exclusive member events and a great new season of tours!