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Renovated Virginia Museum of History and Culture opens this weekend

After being closed for months and more than $30 million in renovations, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture is re-opening this weekend in Richmond.

Workers are still putting the final touches on the museum’s new bright and airy spaces. That includes a cafe, research library, conference rooms, and 50-percent more exhibition space.

The largest new exhibit is organized by Virginia’s geographic regions, and is immersive in stories, sounds and visuals.

“And so each one of these living murals is slightly animated to give you a sense of the landscapes and the people of that region,” describes Andy Talkov, curatorial director. He says the renovation and re-opening is a huge step toward goals museum leadership set back in 2018. But it’s not the finish line.

“In fact when we open the doors on Saturday it’s really just the beginning of fulfilling the promise that we’re making by doing all of this construction work and re-doing exhibits,” Talkov says.

That promise is to reach more people. The museum was an exclusive historical society for much of its nearly 200-year history. That long history means they’ve amassed a huge collection, including many personal diaries and letters. But expanding and diversifying that collection will begin with expanding and diversifying who comes through the doors.

Joseph Rogers is the Museum’s Manager of Partnerships and Community Engagement. He says the museum’s mission is to tell the stories of all Virginians.

“In order to tell those stories and share those stories it needs to be constantly engaging with its community,” Rogers says. “If we claim to represent Virginia as your state history museum we need to hear from you.”

The museum opens Saturday and Sunday with free admission. There will be live music, activities, and food trucks.

Live performances include Weldon Hill Saturday at 3:30, Bio Ritmo Sunday at 1, and the Elegba Folklore Society Sunday at 3:30.

There will be local food vendors from 11 to 3, plus print making, a bounce house and other crafts.

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

Mallory Noe-Payne is Radio IQ's Richmond reporter and bureau chief.