New Exhibit Explores Richmond's Monuments

Jul 5, 2018


The Jefferson Davis monument should be removed, according to the commission's recommendations.


One of the recommendations of the recently-released Monument Avenue report is to create a permanent exhibit that takes a deep dive into the history of Richmond’s Confederate monuments. As of this week, those monuments are already getting some historical treatment at Richmond’s Valentine Museum.



The exhibit, Monumental, opened this week in Richmond. And while it focuses on all of Richmond’s monuments, the idea did originally stem from the ongoing conversation about Confederate monuments.

“The goal was to provide a core of information from which we can decide what’s next. We felt like this was the opportunity to stop, breathe, reflect, and then act,” explains Bill Martin, director of the Valentine Museum.

The exhibit provides historical context for many of the city’s Confederate monuments, when they were built and why.

For instance, the Sons of the Confederate Veterans initially planned an elaborate crypt for Jefferson Davis. They couldn’t raise the money, so instead the Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned the monument that stands today.

“And I wonder as people look back a hundreds years from now at Richmond in 2018 and 2019, as we continue to build monuments, how will people 100 years from now look back at us and about the stories that we’re telling today?” asks David Voelkel, curator of the exhibit.

The exhibit runs through the end of the year. Then next February a second exhibition will present possible redesigns of Monument Avenue.

 This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.