Sign Spotting

“I saw the sign!” In the words of Ace of Base, whether lit from within, glitzy with gold, or hoisted up high, most Richmond signs have to be seen to be heard. Businesses, governments, and citizens use signs to advertise, direct, and define. Sign Spotting will use the Valentine’s sign collection to explore how some signs contributed to the city’s hospitality, health, transportation, and manufacturing industries. The museum’s collection of signs will be featured, many of which are recent acquisitions, including neon signage, trade signs, public facility signage from the Jim Crow era, street signs and local advocacy signs.

An Unfinished Museum: 125 Years of the Valentine

In 1930, acting Director Laura Bragg expressed her dismay at plans to delay the reopening of the 30-year-old Valentine Museum following a major reorganization and expansion. She wrote to then-president Granville Valentine “A finished museum is a dead one.” and urged that the museum open as planned that October. An Unfinished Musuem: 125 Years of the Valentine explores through photography the evolving role of the Valentine Museum to address the changing needs of the Richmond community. From general museum to one focused on the region’s history, the Valentine has never been content to be static. See how the Valentine’s collections, exhibitions and programs have grown and changed over the decades while remaining committed to the museum’s physical presence in downtown Richmond.

The Valentine Studio Project

In response to calls for cultural institutions to provide an unvarnished history of Richmond’s past, the Valentine has adopted an ambitious plan: completely reinterpret Edward Valentine’s sculpture studio, where he conceived many significant Lost Cause artworks. In 2020, the Valentine sought community input from the greater Richmond region via a public survey on how to reimagine the space. Edward Valentine was one of the founders of the museum and played a central role in creating and disseminating Lost Cause iconography. The newly reimagined studio will provide visitors a space to confront and reckon with the painful history of Richmond’s and the Valentine’s early role in the development and spread of the harmful Lost Cause mythology.

In 2021, the Valentine engaged award-winning architecture and design firm Studio Joseph to produce concept designs for the Studio space. In 2022, the Valentine will collect feedback from the Richmond community on these designs.

Relatedly, the Valentine is working with Reclaiming the Monument as well as the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia to engage directly with the Richmond community around the issues of monuments and public art. Feedback gathered through these partnerships will also inform the final Valentine Studio design. Your input will help the Valentine understand how our community thinks and feels about these topics and how we can best serve the Richmond region in the future.

To provide your thoughts on monuments, click HERE.