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Valentine Intern Spotlight: Susan Shibut

Susan Shibut, the Valentine’s new PR & Marketing Intern, writes about her dedication to sharing Richmond’s complicated history

Hello! My name is Susan Shibut and I am excited to get started in my new position as the Public Relations and Marketing intern here at the Valentine. I’m a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University where I am studying communications with a history minor. In my time here in Richmond I have fallen in love with this city and couldn’t be happier with this opportunity to learn about it and engage with the community.

In my search for an internship the Valentine stood out as an institution with an inspiring mission. There are plenty of opportunities where I could’ve gotten people coffee and written fluffy blogs, but this would be a chance for me to be a part of challenging a narrative and making an impact. I wanted experience that would teach me something, not just look shiny on a resume.

It is so important to always explain history in an accurate and nuanced way, and that’s something Virginia and Richmond specifically have struggled with and often failed at. Virginia’s state-issued history textbook “Virginia: History, Government, Geography,” unabashedly supported the “Lost Cause” myth from 1957 until phased out in the 1970s. The textbook claimed enslaved people, sometimes referred to as “servants,” were happy, content and didn’t work hard because they didn’t fear losing their jobs. That textbook is estimated to have reached more than a million students, so it’s not surprising that the inaccuracies it perpetuated still pop up in education and public discourse today.

Poor interpretation of history has had lasting effects on Richmond, reflected in everything from the statues on Monument Avenue to the zoning of our school system. I hope that with my work at the Valentine I can help take personal and professional initiative to challenge historical failures and build a better, less editorialized interpretation that is accessible to anyone who wants to learn. As I get closer to graduating I am focused on learning how to convey accurate stories, sometimes only armed with sources that don’t necessarily stand up to appropriate standards of truth and integrity. The complicated, painful nature of Richmond’s history and the nation’s history can make this difficult and uncomfortable—and that’s a discomfort that I’ve felt personally, not just in academic or professional writing but in conversations with friends and family. The water has been seriously muddied by years of revisionism, avoidance and myth-making. I want to be a part of making something better, more truthful, and more inclusive than what we’ve seen in the past.

Our vision statement says it best—we are using the past to inform the present and shape the future. I believe that looking back will push us to look forward. I love this city, and it’s a privilege to join the Valentine in trying to make it better.

Susan is the PR & Marketing Intern at the Valentine in Richmond.

“Where in the World is the Valentine?” Part 6: Don’t Trust Google

Don’t trust Google.

We know what you’ve been thinking all summer:

“I really need to get down to the Valentine. There’s that ‘controversial’ Monument Avenue exhibition on display and I read that article in Style Weekly about the Cook Photograph Collection. There’s even that exhibition with the working Costume and Textiles Lab!”

But you’ve been putting it off because of the ongoing construction. Please make plans to visit and just enjoy the adventure.

But keep in mind: it’s getting a little weird. There have been alarming reports of shape-shifting buildings and disappearing streets. The old Richmond Eye and Ear Hospital disappeared one week and the new VCU Children’s Hospital started appearing the next. Remember the Virginia Treatment Center for Children? It’s gone and a new VCU Adult Outpatient building is already replacing it. And then there are the streets. Well, sometimes there are streets. Other times, just a lot of parking cones, yellow tape and dust.

But despite all these changes to the neighborhood, the one thing that we are sure of is that the Valentine and our exciting exhibitions and programs aren’t going anywhere.

So just a piece of advice: ignore Google Maps. Instead, go ahead and get lost in this great neighborhood, enjoy the evolving Court End area, take in all the VCUHealth developments and discover a new stories about our city.

In this blog series, we’ve touched on a few: the Egyptian Building, Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Richmond and more. But those stories just scratch the surface.

Eventually, you’ll find us and you’ll get a medal (and a good dose of Richmond Stories) for all your efforts. See you soon!

Our friend Beau Cribbs finally found his way to the Valentine and received his medal!

“Where in the World is the Valentine?” Part 5: Rearing its Ugly Head

How do you really know that you’ve arrived at the Valentine? That’s easy.

As you make your way to that most beautiful block of 1100 East Clay in Richmond where the Valentine stands (and after you’ve traversed several closed sidewalks and lost your way several times), you will immediately be confronted by the ugliest building in the city. We’ve talked about cranes, closed streets, shifting sidewalks and event lost ghosts, but this edifice might be the real reason you’ve been having trouble finding us.

After all, it’s not hard to miss and it’s easy to get sidetracked. It’s the crumbling structure missing tiles and dead-ending East Clay Street. You know it as the City of Richmond’s Public Health and Safety Building.

 

Built in the 1960s and representing the worst of mid-century modern design, there is nothing healthy or safe about it. Not only is it an eyesore with its peeling walls and aging marble, but by plopping this building in the middle of Clay Street, it has served to isolate the Valentine and VCUHealth from the rest of downtown. Need proof? Here is a picture from the Valentine Archives of the gorgeous structure that stood on this spot before the Public Health and Safety Building went on to eventually fill the space:

FIC.033739, Purcell Hoe at NW corner of 10th and Clay Streets, Mary Wingfield Scott, The Valentine

Whatever your stance on the proposed Navy Hill redevelopment project, we can all agree that the City and the Valentine both deserve better than the existing sub-standard structure and its surrounding parking lots.

So as part of your “Where in the World is the Valentine?” adventure, walk around the Court End Neighborhood, take a look at Richmond’s ugliest building and consider the proposed plan for the area. If we are going to make informed decisions about this important and historic neighborhood, there nothing like seeing it for yourself.

And by visiting the Valentine, you have the opportunity to learn from our city’s history, explore both our successes and our failures and put those lessons to work for our shared community.

Also, you’ll get a medal. So that alone is worth the price of admission.

Richmond History Makers and Community Update Celebrates Fifteenth Anniversary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2019

Contact:
Eric Steigleder
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
esteigleder@thevalentine.org

Richmond History Makers and Community Update Celebrates Fifteenth Anniversary

The Valentine is partnering with the Community Foundation for the 2020 program

RICHMOND –Nominations are now open for the Richmond History Makers and Community Update. Celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, the program recognizes individuals and organizations making substantive and lasting contributions to the Greater Richmond region.

This year, The Valentine will partner with the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond to highlight the work of six honorees and provide an update on the projects and programs making a difference across the region. The six honorees will be recognized at a community celebration taking place at Virginia Union University on March 10, 2020.

“The Valentine is excited to collaborate with the Community Foundation to recognize the good work being done across the region while providing an overview of the life-changing work taking place right here in the community,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “We are looking forward to this new partnership, celebrating the event’s fifteenth anniversary, recognizing six new honorees and sharing transformational Richmond stories.”

“Partnering with the Valentine to celebrate history makers and share about successes across the region seemed like a natural fit,” said Scott Blackwell, Chief Community Engagement Officer with the Community Foundation. “Richmond History Makers gives us that feel good moment, year after year, to recognize many of the innovative and collaborative efforts that are moving our region forward and we are proud to join in the celebration.”

“Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR) is proud to be a founding partner of the Richmond History Makers & Community Update Program,” said LMR President & CEO Myra Goodman Smith. “We are pleased to play a role in informing our region on the unique activities and projects that are making a difference and recognizing residents and organizations that are creating the impact.”

Nominations for the 2020 Richmond History Makers & Community Update are being accepted September 4 through October 25. You can learn more about the program, view past honorees and nominate your own Richmond history maker at RichmondHistoryMakers.com.

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About the Valentine
The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond stories for more than a century. Through collections, exhibitions and programs, the Valentine provides residents and tourists the opportunity to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region. The Valentine offers major changing exhibitions, which focus on American urban and social history, costumes, decorative arts and architecture. https://thevalentine.org/

About the Community Foundation
The Community Foundation is a leading partner and advocate for philanthropy and service in the Richmond region. Founded in 1968, the Community Foundation has built a strong legacy of helping people and institutions give back with passion and purpose. https://www.cfrichmond.org/

About Leadership Metro Richmond
Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR) is the region’s community leadership development and engagement organization. Over 2,000 diverse leaders have participated in LMR’s 10-month leadership development program, Leadership Quest. LMR provides leaders with an environment for high-performing conversations, broadens their knowledge and perspectives about the region, and inspires them to serve first then lead. http://www.lmronline.org/

“Where in the World is the Valentine?” Part 4: Cranes Find a Way

No matter how many wrong turns you make, closed sidewalks you avoid or yellow tape you ignore in your valiant attempts to find the Valentine, sooner or later, you’ll spot them. And you’re not the only one.

Be quiet! One of the new Great Yellow Cranes is roosting right in front of the Valentine.

Birdwatchers are flocking to the Valentine in the historic Court End neighborhood to get a rare glance at the new nesting area for one of the greatest of ornithological wonders: the Great Yellow Crane. While seen from time to time in other parts of the city, the Valentine is at the center of one of the largest rookeries for this amazing species.

While there are just three who have made their home nearby, we are expecting more arrivals this fall, eager to roost and change the landscape in the process. Our Great Yellow Cranes can now be seen at the construction sites of the VCU Outpatient Clinic and the Virginia General Assembly Office Building. We are also anticipating the arrival of two new chicks where the new Children’s Hospital is being built.

In fact, today we spotted the very rare Miniature Black Crane hatchling taking a rest right near the Children’s Hospital Grounds (pictured below). All of these cranes can be very large, very threatening and can sometimes make very weird sounds. They’re also very slow, so it’s easy to avoid them.

The Miniature Black Crane in its natural habitat.

But these cranes are particularly special, because they’re not from the rookery on the James River. We’re taking about construction cranes. The Valentine’s neighborhood is always undergoing some sort of change, but we are still here telling the stories of Richmond.  If you think about it, with the Virginia State Capitol, the Executive Mansion, the John Marshall House, the American Civil War Museum’s White House of the Confederacy and Monumental Church all in the same neighborhood, if we’re not the natural habitat for wild cranes, we’re definitely the natural habitat for American history.

Bring your binoculars, take some time to enjoy the “wildlife” springing up near the Valentine and remember: the cranes are more afraid of you than you are of them. Enjoy the scenery as you make your way to the Valentine; it’s all a part of the great adventure!

Discover the Valentine (and our cranes) for yourself this weekend…

“Where in the World is the Valentine?” Part 2: Lincoln Lost

So you find yourself walking through historic Court End, searching for the Valentine. You’re side-stepping traffic cones and crossing the street to avoid yet another “Sidewalk Closed” sign. You’re just about to give up, when you spot something…

President Lincoln Entering Richmond, April 4, 1865, by Thomas Nast. Published in Harper’s Weekly, February 24, 1866. V.45.28.345. Hibbs Collection, The Valentine.

Did you just see Lincoln’s ghost? Who is that with him?

I wouldn’t be surprised if you did.

On April 4, 1865, as the city was still smoldering from the evacuation fires at the tail end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad arrived in a smoldering Richmond.

Imagine what it would have been like as he walked through the streets to come to the realization that the Civil War that had consumed the city, the nation and his Presidency was finally ending. Lincoln and Tad entered the city from the James River (in the area where Bottoms Up Pizza is today) and made their way to the U. S. military headquarters that had been established in the former residence of Confederate President Jefferson Davis (now known as the American Civil War Museum’s White House of the Confederacy).

If you see the spirits of Lincoln and Tad wandering aimlessly as you start your visit to the Valentine, don’t worry; they’re lost just like you.

The neighborhood has changed so much since 1865 and it’s continuing to change day by day. Who knows? If you’re lucky, Lincoln’s ghost might be able to give you a few pointers on how to avoid closed sidewalks without tumbling into the road.

But as much as the Court End neighborhood has changed, you can still walk the incredible streets with all of those that built Richmond’s history and discover those stories and more at the Valentine.

If you make it, you not only receive a dose of Richmond Stories, you’ll win a medal!

“Where in the World is the Valentine?” Part 1: The Great Adventure!

This first blog by Director Bill Martin kicks off our six week “Where in the World is the Valentine?” series

Join us this summer for a great adventure to find the Valentine.  More fun than any theme park and better than the beach, we invite you discover the transformation of the VCUHealth campus and at the end of your trek find one of Richmond’s most enduring and elusive treasures…

The Valentine!

This trip to our neighborhood will be filled with off-roading, disappearing buildings, wandering spirits, obstacle courses and, of course, a decent amount of time travel. Who needs to leave town when all of this adventure is awaiting you right in your back yard (just around a few parking cones, through a road closure and past a few giant cranes, of course)?

Let’s begin with the basics. Each week, we will post an official update, providing directions on this great adventure. From there, you will enter the maze and hopefully find the parking lot at the Valentine. We’ll make sure to provide helpful (or not so helpful) hints on how to get here and who (or what) you may find along the way.

Whatever you do, don’t give up!

We will keep it simple. Here are the entry points for this week; happily ignore whatever Google Maps tells you.

From East Broad:

Take a left on 11th Street and begin your journey.  Cross Marshall Street and turn left on Clay Street.  The Wickham House and the Valentine will be on your left.   While beautiful, you will need to drive slowly.  This is where all of our schools kids on field trips enter the building.

Clay Street ends with the ugliest building in the city (pictured below), so make sure you’re not so distracted by this eye-sore that you miss the turn.  Carefully Turn left on 10th and then an immediate left into our parking lot.

From West Broad:

Take a right on 11th and follow the directions above, including the reminder to not let the ugliest building in Richmond sour your experience entirely.

From Leigh Street (the easiest option):

Turn onto 10th Street and just after you pass Clay Street (and the previously mentioned ugliest building in the city), make a left into the Valentine parking lot.

Next week, we will begin providing a few notes to guide you during your visit to the Valentine and the historic Court End Neighborhood. You never know where you might end up; how about a side trip to Egypt? But more on that later.

If you can traverse these obstacles, overcome peril and hardship, and finally reach your destination at the Valentine,  you’ll have the best fun of the summer and you will receive a medal for your bravery, courage and fortitude! Can you meet the challenge?

 

 

New Valentine Exhibition Recognizes Women’s Advancement through Fashion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2018

Contact:
Eric Steigleder
Director of Public Relations & Marketing
esteigleder@thevalentine.org

New Valentine Exhibition Recognizes Women’s Advancement through Fashion

Photo courtesy Jay Paul/Richmond Magazine

Day ensemble worn by Nathalie L. Klaus, 1972, Cotton voile, V.88.237.12a,b, Hanae Mori, Courtesy Jay Paul/Richmond magazine

RICHMOND – A new exhibition exploring fashion as central to the professional, creative and social advancement of women in Richmond will debut at the Valentine on April 26.

Entitled Pretty Powerful: Fashion and Virginia Women, this unique exhibition will explore how fashion offered Richmond women of diverse backgrounds and experiences an accepted professional path with prospects for personal agency.

“In this deep dive into the history of Richmond women working and living in fashion, the Valentine’s costume and textiles collection has revealed one treasure after another,” said Kristen Stewart, the Nathalie L. Klaus Curator of Costume and Textiles. “The styles in Pretty Powerful: Fashion and Virginia Women are as stunning as the stories are inspiring. “

Pretty Powerful emphasizes the role Richmond women have played in bringing greater awareness to the city and its industries. From the 19th century to the present day, this exhibition highlights how women designers, producers and consumers of fashion have sought their own means of empowerment, using their talents and expertise to help shape the cultural landscape of Richmond in the process.

“This exhibition is a perfect example of the Valentine’s dedication to sharing unique and timely Richmond Stories,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “As we continue to grapple with the nationwide discussion about the experiences of women in professional settings, Pretty Powerful provides a compelling narrative of empowerment, accomplishment and success.”

Pretty Powerful: Fashion and Virginia Women will be on-view at the Valentine from April 26, 2018 to January 27, 2019 in the Nathalie L. Klaus Gallery on the lower level.

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About the Valentine

The Valentine has been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond stories for more than a century. Through collections, exhibitions and programs, the Valentine provides residents and tourists the opportunity to discover the diverse stories that tell the broader history of this important region. The Valentine offers major changing exhibitions, which focus on American urban and social history, costumes, decorative arts and architecture. https://thevalentine.org/

About the Valentine Costume and Textiles Collection
The Costume and Textiles Collection at the Valentine comprises over 30,000 dress, accessory and textile objects made, sold, worn or used in Virginia from the late 18th century to the present day. The largest of its kind in the American South, this collection enjoys an international reputation among fashion and textile scholars.

Valentine School Programs: Fall round up!

Student Programs and Tours Manager Marisa Day provides an overview of some of the exciting and innovative student programs the Valentine will be offering this fall.

How does the Valentine continue its mission to educate, engage and challenge a diverse audience? Through our robust selection of school programs, of course! This past fall, our Valentine educators and tour guides served nearly 7,000 students in the Richmond metro region through museum programs, outreach visits and walking and bus tours. All of our programs are led by our wonderful educators who use their love of history and interactive components to encourage students and teachers to explore Richmond’s story – past and present.

A few of the programs the Valentine will be offering this school year includes:

Let’s Make History: Inspired by the wallpaper recently installed in the McClurg Bedroom and supported by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, this new program explores the creation of home décor found in the 1812 Wickham House. Students discuss 19th century design and create an actual print with woodblocks based off the wallpaper design in the 1812 Wickham house and made by Jake Urbanski of Studio TwoThree. Students and teachers have enjoyed engaging with the museum in a new way and trying their hand at an artisanal skill. For more information on this program, click here.

Jake Urbanski of Studio TwoThree walking students through the printmaking activity.

History Makers in Richmond: Mapping the Monuments: In this program, first and third graders learn about a number of Richmond history makers (Maggie Walker, Thomas Jefferson, Arthur Ashe and others) who shaped local and national history. This field trip also includes a visit to Edward Valentine’s sculpture studio where educators discuss the process used to create and construct monuments. The program culminates with an opportunity for students to design their own monument.

Students exploring the Edward Valentine sculpture studio.

Our Changing Community: Who doesn’t want to play games in a museum? In this program students tour the 1812 Wickham House, play games and participate in activities to learn about how the lives of children in Richmond has changed over the last two centuries.

Students playing historical games as part of the Our Changing Community program.

Nuestras Historias: Latinos in Richmond School Visits: This fall, with programming created and coordinated by our curator Wanda Hernandez, the Valentine has been offering student visits of Nuestras Historias: Latinos in Richmond, the region’s first bilingual exhibition. Recently, students from JR Tucker’s ELL and Spanish Immersion programs toured Nuestras Historias in Spanish and English and participated in activities that encouraged them to think critically about different moments in U.S. history that involved or impacted people of color, including Mendez v. Westminster and Brown v. Board of Education.

Wanda Hernandez touring a school group through Nuestras Historias: Latinos in Richmond.

Of course these are only a selection of what we are excited to offer the students of the Richmond region. The Valentine Public Programs team is always willing to work with teachers to offer materials and programming that is relevant to the classroom curriculum and important to educating engaged and thoughtful citizens.  If you are interested in learning about ways that you can bring students to the Valentine (or bring our programs to your school) please visit our website, https://thevalentine.org/programs-tours/student/ or contact education@thevalentine.org.

Marisa Day is the Student Programs and Tours Manager at the Valentine

Out of the Rat’s Nest and into the Bedchamber

The Elise H. Wright Curator of the General Collection David Voelkel provides an update on the new wallpaper installation that all began with a chance discovery in a rat’s nest. 

The Valentine has been working tirelessly to reinterpret for a new audience the restored interiors of the 1812 Wickham House to reflect the period before the 1839 death of John Wickham. Recent work has focused on the McClurg bedchamber. Originally the Wickham’s principal guest room, the McClurg Bedchamber became the home of Mrs. Wickham’s widower father Dr. James McClurg from 1816 until his death in July 1823.

This project began with an important discovery during the house restoration: a tiny fragment of wallpaper pulled from a 19th century rat’s nest (watch the Hidden History Segment from WRIC). The New York firm Adelphi Paper Hangings worked from this scrap coupled with another nearly-matching full section of wallpaper from Historic New England’s archives to create our “Wickham Stripe” wallpaper. Located in Sharon Springs, New York, Adelphi Paper Hangings is a small, artisanal manufacturer of historically accurate block printed wallpapers. The “Wickham Stripe” wallpaper was block-printed by Adelphi staff using custom-carved pear wood printing blocks and distemper paint on a special French-made paper which is hand-seamed using rabbit glue.

Wallpaper installation is an artisan craft that requires years of experience to become a master hanger. Adelphi recommended Brian Conn of Oceans Wallcovering LLC for our current project. We could not have been in better hands this past week as the paper literally rolled out and up onto our walls – a first in our restoration of the Wickham House!

In addition to measuring the McClurg Bedchamber to place the order for the correct amount of paper (always factor in an extra 15 -20% for pattern-matching and possible future repairs!), Conn advised the museum to thoroughly prepare the existing plaster walls by filling any holes or cracks, smoothing them down with sandpaper and applying an oil-based primer. Conn installed an acid-free liner paper over the newly painted and sanded walls to ensure the best results for the “Wickham Stripe” wallpaper.

Come see the final results in person during our free Court End Christmas Open House on Sunday, December 10 from noon to 5 p.m.!

David Voelkel is the Elise H. Wright Curator of the General Collection

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