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 many significant Lost Cause artworks were conceived. 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 “Lost Cause” is a concept adopted by former Confederates in the post-Civil War era. The term is understood to represent an inaccurate, romanticized and harmful portrayal of Antebellum life that depicts slavery as largely benign and the south as heroic in their efforts.
The newly reimagined studio would 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 Lost Cause myth. If its transfer is approved by Richmond City Council, this space would also house the unmodified statue of Jefferson Davis, covered in paint and damaged by recent protests. Edward Valentine sculpted the Davis statue, which was installed on Monument Avenue as part of a larger piece in 1907.
The previously mentioned survey was developed by a diverse committee made up of local historians, activists, local leaders and others, with support from the University of Virginia’s Public Memory Project and members of the Valentine family, and the results were released to the public on January 19, 2021. You can find the official press release HERE, and a PDF with additional survey result information HERE. A series of focus groups were conducted as well.
Feedback from this survey will inform and guide the Valentine Studio strategic planning process. 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.
You can still complete the survey to provide your own thoughts HERE.