"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
Featured Promotion

Discover Charles Peale Polk's painting of George Washington.

George Washington
@vahistorical is closed today, July 27, 2016, due to a power outage. The Banner Lecture tonight is also cancelled. @RichmondNPS @RTDNEWS

Upcoming Exhibitions

Special Exhibitions

The Private Jefferson: From the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Opening October 15, 2016

Purchase your tickets to The Private Jefferson

As author of the Declaration of Independence, architect of the Virginia State Capitol, founder of the University of Virginia, and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson is one of history’s best-known figures. Surprisingly, the largest collection of Jefferson’s private papers (more than 8,000 pieces) cannot be found in the Commonwealth, but is instead in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

For the first time since the late 1800s, the most significant pieces from the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts are returning to Virginia and will be on display at the Virginia Historical Society in the exhibition The Private Jefferson: From the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Among the five dozen items on display are:

  • Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence as originally drafted
  • John Adams’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence as it was presented to Congress
  • One of only 26 known copies of the first printed version of the Declaration of Independence
  • Thirty-five architectural drawings of Virginia landmarks designed by Jefferson, including Monticello, the Virginia Capitol, and the University of Virginia
  • Jefferson’s manuscript for his book Notes on the State of Virginia
  • Jefferson’s meticulous farm and garden journals

This exhibition offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these important American documents in one place. 

The Private Jefferson is organized by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Admission: Free for VHS members; $10 for nonmembers; $8 for groups of 10 or more

  • Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 804.358.4901.
  • Admission is free for children under the age of 12.
  • Interested in booking a group of 10 or more to view The Private Jefferson? Learn more

Purchase your tickets to The Private Jefferson

Toys of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s Opening February 27, 2017

Gumby. Barbie. Slinky. Mr. Potato Head. Wham-O. Spirograph. Hot Wheels. The names of popular toys from the 1950s, '60s and '70s capture the craziness, the joy, the sheer fun of being a kid. But beneath those nutty names are rich veins of nostalgia, memory and history. The stories of the kids who played with these toys, the adults who bought them, the child-rearing experts who judged them and the people who invented them, reflect the rhythms of American life. Experience the toys and their stories through three imagined living rooms that bring the decades back to life.

Long-Term Exhibitions

Arming the Commonwealth — Opening July 2016

A comprehensive collection of rare Virginia weaponry and accoutrements dating from the late eighteenth century through today.

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