A History of Richmond in 50 Objects #RVA50

This exhibition explores the history of Richmond, Virginia, through a selection of objects from the Valentine Richmond History Center 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, our contribution continues the dialogue in a way that is uniquely Richmond.

Richmond’s history is one of settlement, progress, setback, and rebirth across four centuries. What was Richmond before there was contact between the native peoples of the region and the English? What was the impact of slavery, civil war, and reconstruction on the lives of our citizens, and how do these events continue to shape our city today? How do objects convey meaning, and why do we collect and pass down these silent witnesses of our past and present?

Our aim is not simply to showcase our museum collection but to enter into an on-going discussion of how history is interconnected with our daily lives. A history told through objects allows for those who do not leave texts to have a voice and to be included as well as to celebrate heroes, achievements, and to commemorate losses.

The telling of history through things is at the core of what museums do.

The actual exhibit closed on October 20, 2013 but each week we will post an object on our blog so check back weekly to explore a history of Richmond in 50 objects with us again.

Thank you to The Lipman Foundation for funding this exhibition.

David Voelkel, Elise H. Wright Curator of General Collections, in the exhibit as it was displayed prior to closing on October 20, 2013.