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This Is Richmond, Virginia

What defines a city? Physical boundaries? People? Economy? Government? Shared beliefs? Richmond is defined by all of these concepts. No one aspect is greater than the other. Together, they create this unique place we call Richmond, Virginia. Richmond is also defined by artifacts, which convey meaning and tell stories. They are collected as silent witnesses of the past and present. The objects in this exhibition have passed through many hands to create personal stories. Collectively, these artifacts help to tell the community’s larger history.

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The Valentine First Freedom Center Exhibitions and Monument

The Valentine First Freedom Center, located at the corner of S. 14th and E. Cary Streets in historic Shockoe Slip, houses 2,200 square feet of exhibitions that delve into America’s experience of religious liberty from its European antecedents through today. A room for traveling exhibitions and updatable modules allows flexibility to highlight historical as well as contemporary events. Physically connected to a Marriott Residence Inn, the exhibits enjoy access to meeting space for forums and conferences. Outside, a 27-foot spire, a limestone wall etched with the enacting paragraph of the Statute, and a 34-foot banner of a seminal Jefferson quote imprint the importance of the “first freedom” on all who come upon that busy corner.

The Valentine First Freedom Center is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

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Signs of the Times

The Valentine is known for its antique, vintage and contemporary collections. Our neon signs from Richmond businesses illustrate commercial growth and advertising trends. Mounted outdoors overlooking the Gray Family Terrace. We encourage you to come by after dusk to see them lit up!

Creating History
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Creating History: The Valentine Family and the Creation of a Museum

A new interpretation of this popular exhibition, Creating History is now viewable on the second floor of the 1812 Wickham House and features additional objects from the Valentine’s founding collection across five gallery spaces. The exhibition explores the Valentine family’s collecting enterprises, Valentine’s Meat Juice, and ways in which the Museum’s interpretation of Richmond’s history has evolved over the last 120 years.

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The 1812 John Wickham House

 A dialogue-based guided tour of the 1812 Wickham House, a National Historic Landmark, encourages guests to explore aspects of life in the early 19th century. The Wickham House was purchased by Mann Valentine Jr. and in 1898 became the first home of the Valentine Museum. In the public first-floor rooms, nationally-recognized neo-classical interiors helped the Wickham family and their enslaved servants present a lifestyle of taste and refinement. The Wickham House cellars open in April 2017 with new hands-on history interactive chests exploring everyday life above and below stairs as well as a short film, Shared Spaces: Separate Lives.

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Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio

You probably know his work even if you don’t know his name. Edward Virginius Valentine (1838-1930) was a prominent sculptor whose works included the Recumbent Lee statue at Washington & Lee University, and the statue of Thomas Jefferson at the Jefferson Hotel. His studio is one of only four surviving 19th century sculpture studios in the United States that is open to the public. A visit to this restored studio offers a glimpse into the mind of the artist and into his times.

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Our Hearts on Our Sleeves

Drawing on the Valentine’s extensive collection of historic and contemporary costume and textiles, O­ur Hearts On Our Sleeves celebrates Richmond’s devotion to diverse creative expression. The fashion and fiber arts have long played an important role in Richmond’s creative community, enlivening Richmond’s streets, shops, galleries, museums, and performance spaces. Codes of dress and works of art have both been employed to communicate or challenge cultural values and to reinforce or subvert social structures. Embedded within these tools of identity construction is a dual nature that invites dynamic exchange about both the personal and the communal experience.

Our Hearts on Our Sleeves examines Richmond’s longstanding infatuation with the arts as articulated through individual style and communal support of avant-garde fashion and fiber art. Like the murals that adorn the city’s buildings, textiles adorn citizen’s bodies uniting artistic expression with self-actualization, creativity with civic service, and traditional techniques with profound irreverence.

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One Love: LGBT Families

This exhibition questions the traditional definition of a family through portraits of LGBT families in the Richmond region. Presented in collaboration with Richmond Region Tourism’s outRVA campaign and photographer Michael Simon.