“Where in the World is the Valentine?” Part 1: The Great Adventure!

This first blog by Director Bill Martin kicks off our six week “Where in the World is the Valentine?” series

Join us this summer for a great adventure to find the Valentine.  More fun than any theme park and better than the beach, we invite you discover the transformation of the VCUHealth campus and at the end of your trek find one of Richmond’s most enduring and elusive treasures…

The Valentine!

This trip to our neighborhood will be filled with off-roading, disappearing buildings, wandering spirits, obstacle courses and, of course, a decent amount of time travel. Who needs to leave town when all of this adventure is awaiting you right in your back yard (just around a few parking cones, through a road closure and past a few giant cranes, of course)?

Let’s begin with the basics. Each week, we will post an official update, providing directions on this great adventure. From there, you will enter the maze and hopefully find the parking lot at the Valentine. We’ll make sure to provide helpful (or not so helpful) hints on how to get here and who (or what) you may find along the way.

Whatever you do, don’t give up!

We will keep it simple. Here are the entry points for this week; happily ignore whatever Google Maps tells you.

From East Broad:

Take a left on 11th Street and begin your journey.  Cross Marshall Street and turn left on Clay Street.  The Wickham House and the Valentine will be on your left.   While beautiful, you will need to drive slowly.  This is where all of our schools kids on field trips enter the building.

Clay Street ends with the ugliest building in the city (pictured below), so make sure you’re not so distracted by this eye-sore that you miss the turn.  Carefully Turn left on 10th and then an immediate left into our parking lot.

From West Broad:

Take a right on 11th and follow the directions above, including the reminder to not let the ugliest building in Richmond sour your experience entirely.

From Leigh Street (the easiest option):

Turn onto 10th Street and just after you pass Clay Street (and the previously mentioned ugliest building in the city), make a left into the Valentine parking lot.

Next week, we will begin providing a few notes to guide you during your visit to the Valentine and the historic Court End Neighborhood. You never know where you might end up; how about a side trip to Egypt? But more on that later.

If you can traverse these obstacles, overcome peril and hardship, and finally reach your destination at the Valentine,  you’ll have the best fun of the summer and you will receive a medal for your bravery, courage and fortitude! Can you meet the challenge?

 

 

Valentine Intern Spotlight: Emily

Emily, the Valentine’s Archives Intern, delves into her research on Mary Wingfield Scott and the importance of historic preservation

Wellesley College rising Junior and Archives Intern Emily

Hi everyone! My name is Emily and I’m the Archives intern at the Valentine this summer! I’m a rising Junior at Wellesley College, double majoring in history and classics with a focus on food history. I grew up in Richmond and work in Wellesley’s Archives during the school year, so I was beyond excited at the opportunity to work at the Valentine this summer. As a history student with some academic aspirations, archival materials are often the backbone of my research. Working to help make collections more easily accessible to students, scholars and the public has given me a lot of valuable insight on the importance of archival work in preserving and telling stories from our past.

I’ve spent my summer working on cataloguing the research notes of Mary Wingfield Scott. Mary Wingfield Scott was the author of “Houses of Old Richmond,” (1941) and “Old Richmond Neighborhoods,” (1950) and was a leader in Richmond’s historic preservation movement. As I’ve been working through her extensive collection (33 boxes and almost 3,000 folders!), I’ve gotten to see the scope and depth of her work. For almost every address in the collection, she included a photograph of the house as well as information on property owners, insurance policies, and mentions of the property in old newspapers. Many houses she catalogued and photographed have since been demolished, so many of these properties live on only in her publications and in this collection. Even as the city moves forward, Mary Wingfield Scott’s papers reminds us of the importance of our material past.

While most of her notes revolve around Richmond’s historic homes, I’m currently working on the last section of her collection about early French immigrants to Richmond. Each folder contains basic, somewhat sparse information about some of Richmond’s earliest immigrants, but the sheer number of people she wrote about is astounding. The stories of many of the men and women she wrote about have otherwise been lost to history, and it’s often difficult to find any additional outside information on them. While reading through and cataloguing her papers, I am reminded of the meaning and privilege of archival and historic preservation work. Richmond was built by thousands of men and women whose names and stories have been lost in public memory but who live on in archival collections that help tell the story of our past. Ordinary individuals made history and changed history, and it’s up to us to help uncover and tell the stories we’ve lost to time. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities the Valentine has given me to help do this work and highlight these stories.

Emily is the Archives Intern at the Valentine in Richmond.

A Richmonder in France, Part 1

In honor of Bastille Day Weekend, this first of a two-part profile of Sara Shelburne, a Richmonder who made a splash in France, was written by Nyasia Williams, owner and licensed cosmetologist of Styles By Milan LLC, aspiring public relations professional and a 2018 Valentine volunteer. 

Did you know that Virginia’s capital, Richmond, was once home to a famous fashion designer by the name of Sara Shelburne? Featured in Vogue and The New York Times, this style guru owned two boutiques in Paris, designed several game-changing garments and earned international recognition for her work, which has even been collected by top fashion museums in the country, including The Museum at FIT in New York and (you guessed it) the Valentine in Richmond. If you are familiar with Richmond and you know fashion then this may not be news to you, but if not, then sit tight. This blog series will fill you in on the illustrious career of this RVA native.

Haven’t heard of Sara Shelburne? No need to feel out of the loop. There are some unexpected pieces to her puzzling story. Her career as a fashion icon was somewhat of an accident. Shelburne was born in Europe and moved to Richmond as an infant. She graduated from Richmond’s George Wythe High School and studied political science at Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University). When she returned to her native Europe she became one of the most famous individuals in the world of fashion at the time.

Morris, Bernadine. “A Lawyer Finds Happiness as Dress Designer.” The New York Times June 12, 1971.

 

Shelburne moved to Paris in 1964 to study international law at l’Institute Politic. Her career blossomed in the incredibly competitive law field and she ultimately earned a doctorate degree.

In Paris, however, fashion trumps all and Shelburne, who frequented the city’s streets in her self-made dresses, triumphed over French fashion. While researching American investment in the common market, she attracted attention from fashion journalists by wearing clothes she had designed and made herself. As she told the Richmond News Leader, “before I knew it I had offers to design. I hired a seamstress. And that’s how it started.” By 1969, she had established an atelier called Tanagra and employed eight women above her eponymous boutique on the Rue du Cygne in Paris who brought her designs to life.

Beauty Bulletin: Beauty As Personality By Majumdar, Sachindra K.Vogue; New York Vol. 156, Iss. 6, (Oct 1, 1970): p. 127 Richard Avedon Photographer

Her innovative ensembles caught the eye of designers and from there she was riding the fashion wave. “I had always designed my own clothes and American fashion magazines in Paris saw some of them and interviewed me. Several magazines here planning spreads on my clothes,” said Shelburne in 1969 to The Richmond Times Dispatch. From the bar exam to Vogues Beauty Bulletin, Shelburne tackled it all.

Shelburne left Richmond Times Dispatch readers stunned by her confidence, which was central to her successful transition from lawyer to fashion designer. “I lift the phone and say what I have to offer, and that’s all there is to it.”

Her legacy lives on through her international work and right here at the Valentine. Now I ask, do you know the ever-so-talented Sara Shelburne?

Valentine Intern Spotlight: Erika Holshoe

Our Costume & Textiles Intern Erika fills us in on her love of fashion, curatorial work and being an archival detective.

University of Rhode Island Master’s Student and Costume & Textiles Intern Erika Holshoe

Howdy! I’m Erika and I am beyond thrilled to be interning this summer with the Costume & Textiles Department here at the Valentine.

I’ve always had a love of fashion, but its reputation as frivolous and unacademic made me shy away from pursuing fashion studies. My love of culture and history drove me to study linguistics instead. Fashion was always on the back-burner until I took a general education course my final semester of undergrad that looked at fashion through an anthropological lens. So much can be learned about humanity through the way we dress. The course validated my interests and demonstrated that fashion was worthy of being studied.

I’m currently finishing up my master’s degree at the University of Rhode Island, specializing in dress history. My aim is to become a curator, creating exhibitions that utilize fashion and dress to challenge the way we understand the world. In comparison to high-brow art, fashion is hugely accessible for visitors and is thusly a fabulous platform to connect with visitors and foster conversations. I was drawn to the Valentine because their mission supports challenging traditional ideas and methodologies and encourages conversation about difficult topics. Plus, their costume and textiles collection is out of this world!

V.44.48.06a,b, Second Day Dress, 1896, Wool oyster cloth, lace, silk, velvet, whalebone, Made for Mrs Gordon Wallace by Fannie Criss, Gift of Mrs. Gordon Wallace (née Ellen Clarke)

My mentor Kristen Stewart, the Nathalie L. Klaus Curator of Costume & Textiles, has been so supportive of my ideas and goals and has tailored my internship to help prepare me for a career in costume curation. Story-telling is integral to museum exhibitions; without it, an exhibition would be kind of, well, boring! Research (endless hours of research) creates the foundation for material culture analysis and story-telling. Ms. Stewart has let me dive deep into the archives to research a Richmond based dressmaker from the turn of the 20th century named Fannie Criss.

As a first child born out of enslavement, Criss navigated a tumultuous and changing South and created a name for herself as a dressmaker for the elite of Richmond. She lived in the wealthiest parts of the city and charged around 200 dollars for a dress at a time where an average dress cost 5 dollars. Her success led her to move to New York City, where her business continued to be successful. Her clientele include Maggie L. Walker and Gloria Swanson, and one of her best friends was the famous Madam C.J. Walker!

Like many of women of color, Criss’ story seems to be erased from the books of history. But my research is uncovering just how amazing her life was. It may sound geeky, but it’s a thrill to be a detective in the archives and discover nuggets of lost knowledge. It’s high time that Criss gets the recognition she deserves and I am so honored to contribute to this research.

Erika Holshoe is the Costume & Textiles Intern at the Valentine in Richmond.

#ChallengeAccepted

Our Adult Programs and Tours Manager Explains the #19forthe19th Challenge

Last month, the U.S. National Archives launched a creative, 19 week long Instagram Challenge inviting the public to share stories of amazing women in celebration of the passage of the 19th Amendment.

The Valentine eagerly accepted the challenge and our staff is excited to share stories of Richmond women. For those who may not be familiar, an Instagram challenge is a single or series of photo prompts for each day over time. The entire Instagram community is invited to participate using the prompts which are hashtagged and easily followed or searched. If you’re never seen an Instagram challenge, just click here to see how it works.

Institutionally, these challenges are a great way to share content with new audiences. Personally, they are an easy way to explore topics of interest and discover stories from all over the country or world. A simple search on Instagram for #19forthe19th will show posts from the University of Washington Special Collections to the Kansas Historical Society, all highlighting women you may know well and some you may have never heard of before.

Like all museums, the Valentine is only able to display a small portion of its collection at any one time. That’s why social media has become the perfect, virtual space to share these wonderful stories while they remain physically stored away for safekeeping.

Our first entry in the #19thforthe19th Challenge shared the story of Marii Hasegawa. V.88.68.67, [Peace Protester], Richmond Newspapers, Inc., January 16, 1987

From #WomenInSTEM to #DefenderofHumanRights, the #19forthe19th weekly topics provide a great opportunity to dig through the Valentine’s archives and collections to shed light on incredible Richmond women and share their accomplishments with the world (well, the Instagram world at least). The prompts thus far have allowed us to share the stories of peace advocate Marii Kyogoku Hasegawa, the armor-clad Virtus on the Virginia state flag and Eleanor Parker Sheppard, the first woman mayor of Richmond.

But even after you’ve explored the #19forthe19th hashtag, there are many other ways to engage with these important stories. At the Valentine this year, you can experience Leading Women of Richmond, a two part series in our Interactive History Program available upon request. You can also enjoy  Stories of Trailblazing Richmond Women, a special Richmond History tour being offered on October 12 and October 20.

We hope you’ll consider following the #19forth19th challenge and even contributing yourself!

Amanda Vtipilson is the Adult Programs and Tours Manager at the Valentine in Richmond.

The Art of the Handwritten Note

The Valentine’s Museum Store Manager shares her thoughts on the living art of the handwritten note

New Biba Letterpress Stationery (complete with quills) in the 1812 Wickham House.

With the hustle and bustle of life in 2019, one might begin to think that handwritten letters are a thing of the past – a “dying art.”  However, the art of the handwritten note is what brings the form alive today more than the long, conversational letters of times past.

Today, a handwritten note can be short and sweet. After all, it’s the unspoken messages that really count. That’s where this new project comes in!

Get inspired to write friends and family a handwritten note on the exclusive letterpress stationery inspired by the re-created wallpaper in the McClurg Bedchamber of the historic 1812 Wickham House. locally crafted by Biba Letterpress, the beautiful details from the “Wickham Stripe” wallpaper come alive on gorgeous, weighted paper that is both a pleasure to write on and to share.

So what makes the handwritten note an art anyway?

Like the best art, the handwritten note comes from the heart. Handwritten messages carry more weight (both literally and figuratively) and are often convey more sincerity. Think about all of the Facebook birthday wishes you receive versus that special handwritten card you receive from your grandmother. They don’t begin to compare, do they?

The handwritten note is more open. It allows the reader to think and ponder and feel, much how art requests that the viewer think and ponder and feel. It is also courteous; a handwritten note does not demand an instant reply for fear of getting lost in an onslaught of emails.

Packaged Biba Letterpress Stationery, based on the re-created wallpaper in the McClurg Bedchamber.

The handwritten note is more expressive. You reveal yourself in your handwriting, the words you choose, the pen you choose, the paper you choose and even the stamp you choose to send it. Art is about what the artist has chosen to express, so why not let your own personality and sincerity shine?

The handwritten note stands out. It is both classic and rebellious at the same time. Ink on paper is still considered the most formal way to express our thoughts, and yet taking the time to write a letter is a distinct act of defiance against day-to-day emailing, texting and other technology-based forms of communication.

Become a handwritten note artist today! The Valentine Museum Store has all the stationery and fountain pens (pictured below) you will need to inspire and drive your creative communication.

Brianna Landes is the Museum Store Manager at the Valentine in Richmond.

Valentine Intern Spotlight: Rebekah Hale

The Valentine’s new PR & Marketing intern talks historic preservation and her passion for encouraging meaningful dialogue

Randolph-Macon student and PR & Marketing intern Rebekah Hale

My name is Rebekah Hale, and I am a rising senior at Randolph-Macon College. I am so excited to be working as the Public Relations and Marketing intern at the Valentine this summer.

As a classical studies and archaeology major, I have had the opportunity to meaningfully explore our complex history, which has instilled within me a deep-seated appreciation for the study and preservation of cultural heritage. Throughout my academic exploration, I have had to confront and grapple with the many competing interests and ethical dilemmas facing those in the field of cultural heritage preservation. After reflecting on these issues and their impact on our study, preservation and interpretation of the past, I have come to find that engaging with these issues, while difficult, is of paramount importance to ensuring continual progress in the field. Ultimately, the future of cultural heritage preservation lies in our ability to articulate its value through dialogue with our community, which will inspire the public to assist in transmitting our cultural heritage to future generations.

Having grown up in the Richmond area, I have always been interested in the historical and cultural treasures which Richmond has to offer. In addition to my deep appreciation for our history, I also have a passion for communicating the importance of our cultural materials, which allow us to connect with our past in a meaningful way. After graduation, I intend to pursue a career in legal advocacy work in the field of cultural heritage, so I am thrilled to spend my summer at the Valentine, where I will be able to gain a nuanced understanding of the inner-workings of the museum. In addition to acquiring a holistic overview of the various departments of the museum, I am looking forward to assisting the Valentine in the goal of engendering a meaningful dialogue about Richmond’s past. The Valentine remains a cultural institution which understands the importance of engaging with multifaceted issues and igniting community-wide conversations about the complex history of Richmond, and it is my hope that I will be able to encourage public conversations about Richmond’s cultural and historic legacy so that our history can continue to be explored, grappled with and preserved for years to come.

In my role as the Public Relations and Marketing intern at the Valentine, I am most eager to communicate the significance of Richmond’s history through dialogue with the general public. Richmond has such an immense and complex history, and I am excited to take part in connecting with the people of Richmond through the preservation of our cultural remains and valuable conversations about our past. I look forward to spending the summer fostering meaningful and timely conversations in the Richmond community which will serve to cultivate greater appreciation and understanding of Richmond’s unique history and culture.

Rebekah Hale is the current PR & Marketing intern at the Valentine in Richmond.

The Valentine Names General Collections Curator, Appoints New Trustees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2019

Contact:
Eric Steigleder
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
esteigleder@thevalentine.org

The Valentine Names General Collections Curator, Appoints New Trustees

Christina K. Vida

RICHMOND – Following an extensive national search, the Valentine has named Christina K. Vida as the new Elise H. Wright Curator of General Collections. In this new role, Vida will help oversee the  preservation and interpretation of the Valentine’s general collections, 1812 Wickham House and Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio.

Vida currently serves as the Virginia History Day Coordinator at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, and has served in a variety of roles in the public history sector, including Curator of Collections & Interpretation at Windsor Historical Society and Assistant Curator at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Meg Hughes

Additionally, Meg Hughes, who as Curator of Archives has managed the Valentine’s archival holdings since 2004, has accepted a new position as the Director of Collections/Chief Curator.

“At the core of the Valentine’s mission is our remarkable collection of over 1.6 million objects,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “These changes to our curatorial team foster innovation and  strengthen our commitment to the continued care and access of these important historic resources. We welcome Christina to the Valentine and are excited for her to bring her unique experience to Richmond’s oldest museum.”

The Valentine has also appointed a new slate of members to the Board of Trustees. These nine individuals represent a diversity of backgrounds, areas of expertise and interests that will continue to inform the museum’s community-focused work.

The full list of new board appointees can be found below:

Ed Ayers
President Emeritus, University of Richmond

 

 

 

Tracy Kemp Stallings
Adjunct faculty, VCU Department of Health Administration

 

 

 

 

Paula Pando
President, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

 

 

 

 

Leah S. Rasmussen
Mitchell Wiggins

 

 

 

 

Susan Robertson
Founder, Capital Trees

 

Charlotte McGee
Senior Vice President and Market Sales Executive, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Wealth Management

 

 

Austin Jones
Business Development Manager, Dominion Energy

 

 

 

Saurabh Madaan
Managing Director, Investments, Markel Corporation

 

 

 

Elaine Ryan
Partner, McGuire Woods

 

 

 

“Our new additions to the Valentine’s Board of Trustees reflect our commitment to broadening the voices at the table, “ continued Martin. “It is essential that we continue to build and support the next generation of leadership to ensure our continued growth as an institution and our relevance to the Richmond community.”

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About the Valentine

The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond stories for more than a century. Through collections, exhibitions and programs, the Valentine provides residents and tourists the opportunity to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region. The Valentine offers major changing exhibitions, which focus on American urban and social history, costumes, decorative arts and architecture. https://thevalentine.org/

The Valentine Explores Identity Through Dress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2019

Contact:
Eric Steigleder
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
esteigleder@thevalentine.org

The Valentine Explores Identity Through Dress

A new costume and textiles show presents visitors with a peek inside the collection to see who we are by what we wear

RICHMOND – Opening today, Dressing Identity is a one-of-a-kind two-part exhibition that presents a working Costume and Textiles Collections Lab alongside a gallery filled with powerful symbols of identity.

Taken together, these galleries provide a glimpse into how both the Valentine and the larger community claim, interpret and share identity through dress.

Dressing Identity: Caring for Collections features a Collections Lab on view where visitors can watch as members of the museum’s Costume and Textile team catalog, mount, photograph, label and prepare artifacts for storage in the museum’s collection. The lab will provide museum attendees with an inside-look at how the Valentine’s historic objects are protected for generations to come.

In the adjacent gallery and as a companion to Dressing Identity: Caring For Collections, Dressing Identity: Understanding Ourselves presents visible manifestations of grief, pride, honor, ambition, fear and joy. These objects from our collection speak in a broad array of symbolic languages that reflect the rich diversity of Richmond but also communicate a message that is shared by everyone.

“As visitors make their way through these two separate but unified galleries, I hope they will be touched by someone’s story and gain a better understanding of how we express who we are by what we wear,” said Kristen Stewart, the Nathalie L. Klaus Curator of Costume & Textiles. “I hope that the stories on view in both galleries inspire visitors to seek out deeper connections in their community.”

Dressing Identity will be on-view at the Valentine from May 1, 2019 to January 26, 2020 in the Nathalie L. Klaus Gallery on the Valentine’s lower level.

 

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About the Valentine
The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond stories for more than a century. Through collections, exhibitions and programs, the Valentine provides residents and tourists the opportunity to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region. The Valentine offers major changing exhibitions, which focus on American urban and social history, costumes, decorative arts and architecture. https://thevalentine.org/

About the Valentine Costume and Textiles Collection
The Costume and Textiles Collection at the Valentine comprises over 30,000 dress, accessory and textile objects made, sold, worn or used in Virginia from the late 18th century to the present day. The largest of its kind in the American South, this collection enjoys an international reputation among fashion and textile scholars.

The Valentine Unveils Dynamic New Tours

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2019

Contact:
Eric Steigleder
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
esteigleder@thevalentine.org

The Valentine Unveils Dynamic New Tours

Richmond’s History Museum has developed three new opportunities to learn about the River City

RICHMOND – The Valentine has introduced three new tours in May as part of the 76-year-old tours program that runs annually from April through November.

The new family-friendly Figures of Freedom Downtown Walking Tour invites attendees to tour Shockoe Bottom, one of Richmond’s oldest historic districts, while exploring the struggles for freedom that helped shape America. This tour will include stories of Virginia’s earliest indigenous inhabitants, Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom, the struggle of Richmond’s enslaved population and more. Offered Saturdays and Sundays, May through October.

Another new tour, Museums, Murals, Monuments: Museum District Walking Tour, explores Richmond’s historic Museum District, a neighborhood with 22 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, museums, a growing collection of murals and varied monuments. A Master Valentine Tour Guide will lead a walking tour exploring how public art, spaces and museums have told the story of the city for over 150 years. Offered Sundays, May through October.

Finally, the This is Richmond Downtown Walking Tour invites tourists and locals alike to discover Richmond history from its beginnings to the present day, uncovering the best-kept secrets of River City residents. Stops will include the Broad Street historic shopping district, the Virginia Capitol Square, Jackson Ward, an exclusive tour inside local landmark Monumental Church and more. Offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, May through October.

“We’re excited to introduce these three new tours as part of our annual season, which now includes over 450 tours,” said Liz Reilly-Brown, the Valentine’s Director of Programs. “Both our newly developed tours as well as our neighborhood tours and specialty programming allow visitors to experience the city’s history by exploring the diverse stories that make these areas unique, vibrant and essential parts of the wider Richmond community.”

Now through November, the Valentine also offers daily walking tours of Hollywood Cemetery, bicycle and bus tours and walking tours of a different neighborhood every month.

Also returning this season are exclusive Valentine Member Tours led by Valentine Director Bill Martin.

Reserve tickets quickly as these tours sell out fast. You can find a full list of tours on our website.

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About the Valentine
The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for over a century. Located in the heart of historic downtown, the Valentine is a place for residents and tourists to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of the region through exhibitions, programs, events and more. To learn more, visit thevalentine.org