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New Valentine Exhibition Chronicles Richmond’s Response to Seven Deadly Diseases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2018

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

                                                                

New Valentine Exhibition Chronicles Richmond’s Response to Seven Deadly Diseases

Stories of life-saving progress collide with racial and social disparities in Pandemic: Richmond

RICHMOND – A new exhibition exploring the storms of disease that have swept through the city of Richmond will debut at the Valentine on May 10.

Richmond Influenza Vaccines, 1976, photo by Wallace Huey Clark, V.85.37.2477

Pandemic: Richmond identifies stories of both loss and survival as Richmonders fought silent, invisible enemies, including the 1918–1919 influenza, smallpox, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid fever, polio and HIV/AIDS. Drawing on the Valentine’s expansive archival collection, this exhibition reveals how these seven diseases ravaged communities while prompting life-saving advances in health care.

“This exhibition gives the Valentine the opportunity to show the true scope and impact of disease throughout Richmond’s history,” said Curator of Archives Meg Hughes. “In addition to the past, Pandemic: Richmond looks at disease today and will hopefully inspire visitors to take an active role in determining how Richmond will address future outbreaks.”

The exhibition also confronts issues of access and inequality. Throughout Richmond’s history, the impact of disease has fallen disproportionately on African Americans, the poor, the enslaved and the disadvantaged. Pandemic: Richmond aims to examine and share these important stories.

“This exhibition uses disease as a way to discuss progress, community, bigotry and modernity in Richmond,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “From the laudable scientific achievements to the uncomfortable truths about who did and did not receive care, Pandemic: Richmond tells a nuanced story that is equal parts frightening and hopeful.”

Pandemic: Richmond was developed with collaborating scholar Elizabeth Outka, an associate professor of English at the University of Richmond and author of the upcoming Raising the Dead, a book about modernist literature and the flu pandemic in Britain and the United States.

“Disease often receives less attention than military conflict but pandemic outbreaks from smallpox to AIDS/HIV have profoundly shaped the city’s history and the lives of its citizens,” said Outka.

The exhibition will be on view at the Valentine from May 10, 2018 to February 24, 2019.

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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/

76 Years of Neighborhood Tours!

The Claiborne Robins, Jr. Director of Public Programs Liz Reilly-Brown discusses the history of the Valentine’s neighborhood tours.

FIC.031797; “Carrington Row Tour”; Oct 28 1967; The Richmond Times-Dispatch

In the fall of 1942, the Valentine and historic preservation champion Mary Wingfield Scott launched a series of walking tours exploring Richmond. The Valentine had recently opened the exhibition Old Richmond Neighborhoods, a project that grew out of Scott’s efforts to document the city’s vulnerable historic neighborhoods and architecture. These early walking tours brought Richmond citizens together to explore their city, visiting areas such as Gamble’s Hill, Church Hill, Oregon Hill, Jackson Ward and Hollywood Cemetery.

Tours were among the methods utilized by Scott to spread the gospel of historic preservation. Scott educated residents about important examples of architecture and historic places in their own backyards, sites she believed were in need of saving from ongoing threats of demolition, disrepair and development.

V.85.37.4033; “Group Tours Restoration Project in Church Hill”; 1972; The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Thus, the Valentine’s tour program was born (though not always offered consistently and stewarded for a time by Historic Richmond Foundation). Today, the museum continues Scott’s work by providing Richmonders with opportunities to explore their city by foot, bus and bike, with the goal of sharing diverse stories of Richmond residents and exploring the ever-changing landscape.

In my personal experience organizing the tour program, some of the most rewarding moments have occurred spontaneously as tour takers share their own stories. On a tour of Battery Park last spring, our group discussed the shifting demographics of the neighborhood in the last seventy years, and two attendees recalled their personal experiences during school desegregation. They soon discovered that they were former elementary school classmates, one white and one black.

2018 will mark 76 years since the first Valentine walking tours, and we have many exciting things in the store for the coming season.  Favorite tours will be back, such as Hollywood Cemetery, our downtown City Center Walks and beloved areas like Church Hill, Jackson Ward and Scotts Addition. New additions to our tour program will take attendees to different parts of the city and provide new perspectives, such as a stroll along the Floodwall exploring the history of Richmond and the James River, a walk through the Broad Street Arts District, a tour and work day at Evergreen Cemetery and an exploration of Carytown’s LGBTQ+ history.

We hope that by continuing to explore our city and unearth the important stories of its residents, we honor the legacy of Mary Wingfield Scott, and the numerous people who have contributed to the diversity, culture and history of Richmond.

On behalf of the Valentine, I invite you to join us for tours, April through December. More info can be found at thevalentine.org/tours.

Liz Reilly-Brown is the Claiborne Robins, Jr. Director of Public Programs at the Valentine

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