A New Intern Explores the Original Collection of the Valentine
Ever wondered what the Valentine looked like over 100 years ago, and how it’s changed since then? I did! So I did some research into the original collection, sifting through old exhibition catalogs and photographs provided by the wonderful Archives department, and I wanted to share with you a bit of what I found!
Hello there, friends of the Valentine! My name is Emily Bowden, and I am working as the Development and Public Relations Intern at the Valentine this summer. In my first couple weeks, I have done many different things, from sending membership mailings to tracking down interesting objects in the museum’s vast collection of fascinating objects. For my first blog post, I decided I wanted to learn more about the museum’s collection, specifically its original collection, as well as a bit more about the museum itself, and I thought others might be interested in this topic as well. So here is some of what I learned.
The museum was founded in 1892 by Mann S. Valentine, Jr., who made his substantial fortune manufacturing and selling Valentine’s Meat Juice, which was a health tonic made of beef juice. When he died in 1893, he gave the building, all of the artifacts he had collected that were inside the house, and an endowment fund in his will to ensure the museum continued after his death. What was then called the Valentine Museum opened in 1898. In Mann’s own words, from his will, “I desire to establish in the city of Richmond, VA an institute to be called The Valentine Museum, for the purpose of preserving and accumulating objects of Archaeology, Anthropology, and other kindred arts, for publishing literary, historical, and scientific papers, compatible with the ability and amount of endowment of the said institute.”
In my research on the original collection, I was referenced to the Valentine Museum Opening Address of the President, Act of Incorporation, Constitution, By-Laws and Catalogue of Collections, a neat little book from the earliest days of the museum, dated November 21, 1898. A line from this address, describing the purpose of the museums, reads “There are thousands of interesting objects scattered all over our state, which I fear will, in time, from mere neglect, be lost. What more fitting depository fror them than some Virginia museum? There they can be arranged, cared for, and seen, and may be an inspiration to the youth of the land.” This book also included the Constitution for the museum, as well as a catalog of objects from the original collection, which included the Virginia Room, Tapestry Room, Department of Sculpture (containing Assyrian, Hebrew, Phoenician, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Modern sculptures), as well as a Department of Archaeology. Archaeology seems to have been a special interest of Mann, as the story goes that his impressive collection of artifacts began with a cigar box full of Indian arrowheads he found.
I hope you all found this as interesting as I did! Until next time.