Mission & History


The mission of the Valentine is to engage, educate, and challenge a diverse audience by collecting, preserving, and interpreting Richmond’s history.

Richmond’s long and complex history is a resource that few cities have. The Valentine has a long tradition of using our unique historic buildings and vast collections to expand and deepen our understanding of the central role that Richmond plays in the larger American story, and we are committed to telling our stories in creative, engaging, and inclusive ways.


Valentine Meat Juice Company employees (Daniel Williams on left), early 20th century, Cook Collection 1001, The Valentine

The Valentine’s story begins with Mann S. Valentine II, the museum’s founder, who made his fortune with the creation and production of Valentine’s Meat Juice, a health tonic made from pure beef juice. Like many wealthy men of his era, Mann collected artifacts, eventually assembling a large collection or art, archival, ethnographic, and history objects that he displayed in his home at 11th and Clay streets. Mann Valentine died in 1892, leaving his collection, the Wickham House and an endowment of $50,000 for the establishment of a public museum that ultimately opened in 1898.

Over time, the Valentine has evolved from a general art and history museum to one focusing on the life and history of Richmond, Virginia. For 125 years, the Valentine has collected, preserved and interpreted the materials of Richmond’s life and history. Through our collections, exhibitions and programs, the Valentine reflects the broad issues and diverse communities that define the history of the Richmond region.

For more about the Valentine’s history, see An Unfinished Museum: 125 Years of the Valentine