Dressing Identity: Caring for Collections and Understanding Ourselves

Dressing Identity is a one-of-a-kind exhibition that presents a working Costume and Textiles Collections Lab as well as a gallery of objects which present powerful symbols of identity. Taken together, these galleries provide a glimpse into how both the Valentine and the larger community claim, interpret and share identity through dress.

Dressing Identity: Caring for Collections features a Collections Lab on view where visitors can watch as members of the museum’s Costume and Textile team catalog, mount, photograph, label and prepare artifacts for storage in the museum’s collection. The lab will provide museum attendees with an inside-look at how the Valentine’s historic objects are protected for generations to come.

In the second adjacent gallery and a companion to Dressing Identity: Caring For Collections,  Dressing Identity: Understanding Ourselves presents visible manifestations of grief, pride, honor, ambition, fear and joy. These objects from our collection speak in a broad array of symbolic languages that reflect the rich diversity of Richmond but also communicate a message that is shared by us all.




Developing Richmond: Photographs from the Cook Studio

When photographer George S. Cook relocated with his family to Richmond in 1880, he arrived in a city caught between the old and the new: Richmond bustled with post-Civil War construction and economic enterprise even while it held onto the antebellum social and political order.

Acquired by the Valentine Museum in 1954, the Cook Studio’s more than 10,000 negatives and prints visually document Richmond at the turn of the 20th century.  Experience imagery taken by George and his son Huestis Cook of this conflicted and changing city.


Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion

Following Monumental: Richmond’s Monuments (1607-2018), the Valentine is hosting Monument Avenue: General Demotion/General Devotion. The Storefront for Community Design and the mObstudiO at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts invited teams of planners, architects, designers, artists and individuals to participate in a national design competition to conceptually re-imagine Monument Avenue and contribute to the ongoing dialogue about race, memory, the urban landscape and public art. The finalists are featured in this one-of-a-kind exhibition at the Valentine.

Visit www.monumentavenuegdgd.com for details.

Competition Partners


Classical Allure: Richmond Style

For the inaugural exhibition in the new Nathalie L. Klaus and Reynolds Family Galleries, the Valentine introduces classically inspired treasures from its remarkable collection of costume and textiles. The exhibition explores themes personified by Libertas, Ceres, Virtus, and Aeternitas, the four Roman goddesses that adorn the Virginia state seal, in an examination of the classical forms that endure in Richmond fashion.


Beard Wars

On view during the final year of the American Civil War’s sesquicentennial commemoration, Beard Wars features local photographer Terry Brown’s portraits of members of the RVA Beard League, inspired by images of Civil War generals in the Valentine’s collection.


A History of Richmond in 50 Objects

“A History of Richmond in 50 Objects” explores the history of Richmond, Virginia, through a selection of objects from the Valentine 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, this exhibition continues the dialogue in a way that is uniquely Richmond. From an 1819 imprint of John Smith’s 1624 Map of Virginia to the rainbow flag that flew at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in 2011, “RVA 50” examines how objects contain layers of meaning that are both personal and public.

  1. John Smith Map of Virginia
  2. William Byrd Lottery Ticket
  3. Low Boy Dressing Table
  4. Patrick Henry’s Storebook
  5. James Armistead Lafayette Portrait
  6. Dr. John Peter LeMayeur Suit
  7. General George Washington Portrait
  8. View of Richmond Painting
  9. Thomas Jefferson Statue
  10. Gabriel Prosser Scratchboard
  11. Richmond Virginia Print
  12. Thomas Callendine Boushall Portrait
  13. Mrs. Joseph Marx Portrait
  14. Richmond Theatre Fire Sampler
  15. John Wickham Portrait
  16. Tall-Case Clock
  17. The Noble James Photograph
  18. Richmond City Hall Diorama
  19. Tredegar Iron Works Bench
  20. Charles Dickens Travel Map
  21. Medical College of Virginia Commemorative Plate
  22. City of Richmond Ordinances Book
  23. Martha Crane Heath & Jennie Wilson Heath Portrait
  24. Aunt Betsy Portrait
  25. Flogger
  26. Confederate Sword
  27. Abraham Lincoln Bust
  28. Mourning Gown
  29. Richmond Calamity Print
  30. Old City Hall Stereograph
  31. Old Chief Smokum Statue
  32. Readjusters Broadside
  33. Maggie Walker Historic Site Fan
  34. Loetz Vase
  35. Lila Meade Valentine Suffrage Bandolier
  36. John Murchie Portrait
  37. Victor-Victrola
  38. Cabinet Radio
  39. Martha Denham Portrait
  40. Shirley Temple Doll
  41. Philco Television
  42. Welcome to Richmond Poster
  43. Richmond Tourism Film
  44. Eleanor Parker Sheppard Portrait
  45. Betty Bunnell Bauder Pantsuit
  46. Ella Gordon Valentine Miniatures Cabinet
  47. L. Douglas Wilder Inaugural Suit
  48. La Siesta Sign
  49. Qi Pao Gown
  50. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Pride Flag
  51. Ukrop’s Supermarket Valued Customer Card

Wickham House 200: Inspiring New Art Two Centuries Later

The Wickham House is a spectacular example of 19th century neoclassic architecture and displays some of the country’s finest examples of interior decorative painting. Today, the house and its contents continues to foster artistic creation. Students from the nationally recognized Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts have created site-specific works of art inspired and informed by its architecture and history. This innovative project allows the visitor to investigate new interpretive approaches for historic houses. The exhibit explores contemporary responses to the House in a variety of media and disciplines. Look for these original masterpieces in the front hall, the parlor, the drawing room, upstairs and in the basement. We hope that these works of art inspire you.


History, Ink: The Tattoo Archive Project

This exhibition focuses on the rising popularity of body art, specifically tattoos, broadly in American culture and locally in Richmond. In 2010, NBC’s “The Today Show” listed Richmond as the third most tattooed city in the United States, citing the city’s high number of tattoo shops per capita. This year the Valentine partnered with local photographer Terry Brown to document locally-made tattoos.


Into Focus: Henrico County through the Camera

An exploration of Henrico County’s history on the 400thanniversary of its founding, this photography exhibition includes images taken in Henrico from the 19th century to the present. Drawing upon the photograph collections of both the Valentine and Henrico County, “Into Focus” chronicles how times have changed architectural and culturally throughout the county. Originally named Henricus, Henrico was settled by the Virginia Company in 1611, making it the second English settlement in North America. The exhibition documents the county’s five districts of Brookland, Fairfield, Three Chopt, Tuckahoe, and Varina and includes photographs from historic sites such the J.E.B Stuart Monument at Yellow Tavern.


The “What in the World is Happening in this Photo?!?” Caption Contest Exhibit

An exhibition of mid-to-late century images from the Valentine’s Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection, as determined by the winners of a caption contest held in February 2011. The public was invited to submit original, creative captions for up to 100 random images from this collection. The winning captions appear alongside their respective photos, along with the actual captions that ran in the Richmond Newspapers, in an exhibition on view concurrently at the Valentine and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.