FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2006
Contact: Carol Anne Baker, Media Relations Specialist
(804) 342-9665 email:
AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY FINDS A SAFE HOME
AT THE VIRGINIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Safely Harbored: New African American Acquisitions on display February 11–August 6, 2006
Richmond, VA – Fueled by Alex Haley's book and popular television series, Roots, the collection and preservation of African Americana has grown steadily since the 1970s. Safely Harbored: New African American Acquisitions features a sampling of objects and documents recently acquired by the Virginia Historical Society (VHS).
Challenged by negative stereotypes, misconceptions, and the ephemeral nature of the genre, institutional and individual collectors have actively pursued the acquisition of artifacts that depict a history rarely told. The VHS has made great strides since the early 1990s to acquire artifacts pertaining to African Americans. Safely Harbored will feature manuscripts and objects reflective of the African American experience from slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, World War II, and the civil rights movement. Emancipation documents and insurance papers stand as testimony to the slavery experience while lithographs and sheet music represent experiences during the Civil War. Objects and memorabilia of the Jim Crow era include a signed photo of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, a photo of the Gilpin Shoe Store, and a pewter teapot owned by entrepreneur and civil leader St. James Gilpin. Photos of Oliver Hill and the March on Washington as well as other memorabilia tell the story of the black church and the role it played during the civil rights movement.
"This exhibition contains a wonderful sampling of artifacts and manuscripts acquired by the Virginia Historical Society since 2001," says Dr. Lauranett Lee, exhibition curator and Curator of African American History at the VHS since 2001. "One of the challenges faced when collecting and interpreting black history is that many have not seen these artifacts as a valued part of history and culture. In an effort to round out our collections, we have actively pursued African Americana."
An opening reception with gallery walks, made possible with assistance from The Richmond Chapter of The Links, Inc. will be held at the VHS on Sunday, February 12, 2006, from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. Dr. Lee will host an additional gallery walk through the exhibition at noon on February 15. Safely Harbored runs through August 6, 2006.
As further evidence of the importance the VHS has placed on collecting and interpreting black history, The Story of Virginia, an American Experience, the Society's long-term Virginia history exhibition, now features a newly upgraded gallery in its "Becoming Equal" section that looks at women's suffrage and the civil rights movement in Virginia. The VHS received funding from Philip Morris USA for the important enhancements to this award-winning exhibition. The new additions related to the civil rights movement include not only objects and photographs but also excerpts from oral interviews and vintage television footage. Visitors can view important television coverage of Virginia's civil rights movement in a re-creation period living room of the 1950s–60s.
Visitors are encouraged to visit Safely Harbored and revisit The Story of Virginia to truly appreciate the Society's commitment to the preservation and interpretation of African American history.
The Virginia Historical Society is located at 428 N. Boulevard. The Story of Virginia, An American Experience,
a 10,000-square-foot exhibition with more than a thousand objects covering all of Virginia history from prehistoric
times to the present is featured in the Robins Center for Virginia History. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am - 5pm
and Sunday 1pm - 5pm (Museum Galleries only). Admission: $5/adults, $4/seniors 55+ ($2/Tuesdays–galleries
only), $3/children and students, free/members. Admission to the galleries is free on Sundays. For group tour
information, call (804) 342-9652. For more information, please call (804) 358-4901 or visit