Originally published in the Autumn 2018 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 58, printed November 8. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Autumn 2018 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post (pending). For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.
The Museum of the Confederacy, located in downtown Richmond, closed its doors on Sept. 30.
Its thousands of artifacts are being moved to the new American Civil War Museum at the site of the Tredegar Iron Works near Belle Island, part of an effort to tell a more complete story of the Civil War.
The Confederate museum dates back to 1896, when it was housed in what today is known as the White House of the Confederacy. In 1976 it moved into the larger building next door at 1201 E.Clay St.
In 2013 it merged with the American Civil War Center at Tredegar, creating the American Civil War Museum. The Clay Street building was purchased last year by the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, whose buildings dominate the neighborhood.
The White House of the Confederacy, where Confederate president Jefferson Davis and his family lived during most of the Civil war, will remain open for tours.
The new museum, to be housed in a $25 million, 29,000-square-foot building now under construction, is expected to open in the spring. The entire institution includes Tredegar, the White House of the Confederacy and the Lee surrender site in Appomattox.
The museum’s mission is to tell the story of the Civil War from multiple perspectives: the Union, the Confederacy and the Black community, soldier and civilian.
Its CEO is Christy Coleman, a graduate of Hampton University, former director for public history at Colonial Williamsburg and former director of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.
The Confederate museum’s former president and CEO, S. Waite Rawls III, a former banker, is now president of the American Civil War Museum Foundation, which raises funds for the new museum.
In recent years Rawls came under right-wing fire for refusing to display the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia outside the museum on Clay Street. He also was very helpful in the community struggle to block Venture Richmond’s plan to build a baseball stadium in historic Shockoe Bottom.
For more information see the website of the American Civil War Museum here.
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