Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Renewing Richmond History at the Valentine Museum

Richmond's Valentine Richmond History Center is a museum that originally opened in 1898 and was established by Edward Valentine. The museum is currently getting ready for a historic $4.1 million renovation starting this November. In anticipation of that renovation, the museum is re-creating a display from its first year and bringing visitors up to the second floor to see it. A photograph of the Virginia Room in 1898 is the basis for a display that will open on August 16 in the Wickham House to help tell the story of the Valentine Family that created the museum. The Wickham House will remain open while the main exhibit and education areas of the Valentine Richmond History Center are under renovation. Edward Valentine's sculpture studio has already been renovated and will remain open. Paintings, porcelain plates, a tiered serving tray, glassware, urns and bowls from the 1898 photograph could still be identified in the collection. Portraits of Valentine family members are being hung in the second floor room that will function as a family gallery. The last gallery will be a sculpture gallery.

Mann S. Valentine is regarded as the founder of the Valentine Richmond History Center. His fortune from national and international sales of Valentine's Meat Juice, a health tonic, allowed him to amass a collection worthy of display in Richmond's first private museum. When he died, he left the Wickham House and money for the museum to his brother, sculptor Edward Valentine. The sculptor opened the museum in 1898, and at his death in 1930, he bequeathed his own collection to the museum as well.

The first floor of the house presents elegant rooms that represent the public life of John and Elizabeth Wickham, who built it in 1812 and decorated it in the latest style with wall paintings based on classical Greek and Roman scenes. When the second floor opens next month, the private life of the Wickhams will be represented in two bedrooms, their own room and the room where Elizabeth Wickham's father, Dr. James McClung, lived during the last years of his life.

The Valentine Richmond History Center is a Richmond treasure that is just a short drive from Maury Place at Monument.

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument