As the oldest cultural organization in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of the largest and finest history collections in the nation, we take pride in saving and sharing the remarkable story of Virginia. We believe in the unparalleled role history plays in creating a strong, healthy, and inspired society. We also believe that no place has been more essential to the formation and evolution of our nation than Virginia. It has been at the epicenter of the American experience – a story that must be told.
As we approach our institution’s 200th anniversary and prepare for the 250th anniversary of our nation, we stand at a turning point, and the stakes have never been higher. As generations pass and our narrative expands, we must ensure that the past is not forgotten. We must be engaging, inclusive, and inspiring to encourage and empower the history makers of both today and tomorrow. We must boldly reinvent ourselves to more meaningfully connect with our community and our Commonwealth.
Beginning in October 2020, the VMHC embarked upon a dramatic renovation and expansion project – the most extensive in our long history. Driven by our vision for the future and informed by our long history, we will be investing nearly $30 million in campus and programmatic improvements. In nearly 18 months of construction, the VMHC will be fundamentally reimagined as a more welcoming, guest- and community-centered cultural attraction that is better able to thoughtfully preserve and share the full and ever-evolving story of Virginia.
About the Project
The renewed museum complex of nearly 250,000 square feet will include multiple new exhibitions spaces for long-term and changing exhibitions; a new immersive orientation theater; a new interactive learning space for families; a new research library with a state-of-the-art rare book and manuscript suite, and multiple new education/meeting rooms; a new café, museum store and other amenities; and multiple new and renewed community and event spaces, including a new great hall, a second floor event terrace, an outdoor event lawn, an expanded parking lot, and an improved VMFA campus connector.
Originally planned for 2022 as part of our ambitious, multi-year strategic plan, these extensive capital improvements were expedited as part of the VMHC’s strategy to sustain through the current health and financial crisis. Overlapping the planned and subsidized disruption of renovation with the uncontrollable and unplanned challenge of COVID-19 will help us in the present and certainly in the future as we reopen – renewed as an organization to a renewed world eager to reconnect. This is also one way the VMHC can contribute to community sustainability and recovery during the ongoing pandemic – by engaging dozens of regional businesses in this expansive project.
Construction will be completed in early 2022, with a grand re-opening slated for that spring. Portions of the museum will remain open throughout most of the renovation, and the VMHC’s extensive digital outreach effects will continue without interruption, including virtual programs (lectures, tours, gallery walks, webinars), and educational resources for students, parents, and educators.
• Construction — Fall 2020 to Spring 2022
• Grand Opening Celebration — Spring 2022
Primary Project Goals:
• Ready our institution, its infrastructure and programming, to begin its third century of service on behalf of the Commonwealth
• Grow museum attendance by 25%, and expand the length of a guest’s visit by 50%
• Provide 50% more educational programming across the Commonwealth
• Create relevant and meaningful exhibitions and activities that spark conversation, promote awareness, and reflect all Virginians
• Strategically grow our collections to reflect the vastness of Virginia’s history and make them more accessible onsite and at a distance
• Increase research library use by 25%
We stand ready to create an entirely new and compelling museum experience that allows us to be the history museum Virginia needs and Virginians deserve.
“As the oldest cultural organization in the Commonwealth and one of the largest and finest history collections in the nation, we take pride in saving and sharing the complex and consequential history of Virginia. We believe in the unparalleled role history plays in creating a strong, healthy, and inspired society. History gives us perspective and empathy – something we all could use more of now and always. History matters. As we – as a nation, state, and community – reckon with our past, it is more important than ever that your state history museum is a community partner that adds great value. The VMHC is excited to embark on this important project on behalf of all Virginians and our shared future.”
– VMHC President & CEO Jamie Bosket
About Our Partners
To complete these improvements, the VMHC has assembled a talented team, including Richmond architectural firm Glavé & Holmes and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. For programmatic work, the VMHC is partnering with Virginia-based PRD Group for exhibition planning and design. PRD is an award-winning firm that’s work has been featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture, the United State Botanical Garden, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and several impressive state history museums. The VMHC will also work with Donna Lawrence Productions to produce new media experiences, including a feature film for its new immersive orientation theater. Donna Lawrence is the award-winning producer of film experiences at the National Constitution Center, Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum, Museum of the American Revolution, New York Historical Society, and Walt Disney World.
Support the VMHC as We Prepare to Enter Our Third Century
Your gift to the VMHC will help support our efforts in continuing to provide an engaging guest experience, award-winning educational programs, and robust digital resources. For more information or to make a gift, please contact Anna von Gehr, Vice President for Advancement, at 804.342.9681 or avongehr@VirginiaHistory.org.
Questions? Please contact the Office of the President & CEO at President@VirginiaHistory.org or 804.342.9656.
Browse Renderings of Our New Spaces:
Stay engaged with our VIRTUAL events and DIGITAL programs. Click here for more info.