Ain’t Misbehavin’: 1920s Richmond Explores Change, Conflict Through Fashion

July 6, 2020

Contact: Eric Steigleder
Director of Communications

Ain’t Misbehavin’: 1920s Richmond Explores Change, Conflict Through Fashion

A new exhibition opening at the Valentine examines an evolving Richmond during the roaring 20s 

Bridesmaid dress worn by Elizabeth Bland Brockenbrough, 1927, V.64.03.01, Gift of Elizabeth B. Brockenbrough

RICHMOND — The Valentine’s newest costume and textiles exhibition, Ain’t Misbehavin’: 1920s Richmond, debuts on July 21, marking the 100th anniversary of a decade of full innovation, social change and conflict. The exhibition will be the first to open at the Valentine since reopening on June 30. 

Ain’t Misbehavin’: 1920s Richmond uses the lens of fashion to address a wide variety of topics, from the explosion of youth culture and teen influence to the dramatic increase of women entering the workforce. At the same time, Richmond in the 1920s represented the height of the Jim Crow era, with new laws and old traditions targeting the city’s Black population.

“This exhibition is perfect for this moment in our community,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “Just as in the 1920s, Richmond today is going through a time of dramatic reassessment and renewal, and many of the same issues that made headlines 100 years ago are again part of the conversation.” 

Named for the popular 1929 song of the same name performed by Richmonder Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Ain’t Misbehavin’ explores the social upheaval and cultural innovation of 1920s Richmond, using the Valentine’s impressive costume and textiles collection and its beautiful array of 1920s fashions. 

“I have been struck by the ways that Richmond stories embedded in the Valentine’s collection of 1920s garments echo and anticipate what is happening in the city today,” said Kristen Stewart, the Natalie L. Klaus Curator of Costume and Textiles. “We are thrilled to welcome visitors back to the Valentine with an exhibition that both delights the eye and illuminates a moment in Richmond’s complex history that connects directly with current conversations.”

Ain’t Misbehavin’: 1920s Richmond opens at the Valentine on July 21. To see this and all other exhibitions, reserve your tickets online at Admission is free throughout the summer.


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 this important region.