Protect Your Future - By Learning About the Past - At the VA Historical Society

Even if you are not a history buff, you will want to spend time at the VA Historical Society. Founded in 1831, the VA Historical Society chronicles the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VA Historical Society is a non-profit organization that is privately funded by endowments and memberships, and is not a part of any agency of the state.

While the VA Historical Society began collecting manuscripts, papers, and artifacts, after its conception, there was no official place for them to be stored. As a result, items were lost or misplaced. In 1870, efforts were made to gather the items that had been scattered, and to store them in a temporary space in the Westmoreland Club building. Finally, in 1893 the VA Historical Society moved into Lee House, the former home of General Robert E. Lee and his family. They would remain there until 1946 when they merged with the Confederate Memorial Association and moved into its headquarters known as Battle Abbey. Over the years, and after three expansions, the VA Historical Society is the place to go to learn about the Old Dominion.

Whether you are a resident of Richmond, a Virginian, or a guest visiting our state, there is a lot to be learned from a visit to the VA Historical Society. There is no charge to visit the VA Historical Society museum, or the research library, and there is free parking behind the building. The address is: 428 North Boulevard, Richmond, Virginia 23220. They are open Monday – Saturday from 10 – 5. On Sunday, the museum is open from 1 – 5. For driving directions, or a calendar of events, the VHS can be found online at (

Quote Engraved on the Front Wall of The VA Historical SocietyCredit: Southerngirl09

Virginia, one of the original Thirteen Colonies, played a monumental part in the founding and development of the United States. The VA Historical Society exhibits, library, and education programs will help you to connect with this country's past. After all, if we don't know our past how can be plan our future? Engraved on the front of the building, on one of the latest additions to the VA Historical Society, is Patrick Henry's quote: "I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past."

Current Exhibits Are:

An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia

Banners Announcing an Exhibit Currently at The VA Historical SocietyCredit: Southerngirl09

 Audiovisual programs as well as over 200 items are displayed in this over 3,000 square foot exhibition. Step into an exhibit area, and you will hear and be surrounded on three sides by a battle. Move into another room of this exhibit, become a run away slave, and try to find a way to get to the Union line. This interactive program requires that you make decisions about your journey to freedom, and based on these decisions, you will either escape to freedom or be captured. None in my party, were able to escape; we were all captured.

This must see exhibition will be at the VA Historical Society until December 30, 2011. After that, it is scheduled for exhibition at seven other museums, within the state, beginning in January 2012 through August 2015.

Heads and Tales

This is a portrait exhibit consisting of five portraits. All of these people have very interesting personal stores, with a connection to Virginia, of course. Have a seat, read their stories, and study the portraits.

Virginians at Work

Follow Virginians as they earn a living to support themselves and their families. This is a journey through time as we progress from farming to the Industrial Revolution and into the modern era. Spotlighted here are companies that were founded in the state.

The Story of Virginia, an American Experience

Virginia’s Story Begins Here at The VA Historical SocietyCredit: Southerngirl09

Based on items uncovered at Cactus Hill, Virginia, the first occupants of this land could have lived here approximately 16,000 years ago. Follow the journey through time. Starting with: these earliest inhabitants, the arrival of the Colonist, The American Revolution, The Declaration of Independence, Statehood, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and this exhibit ends with a plaster reproduction of the Arthur Ashe figure that was used in the Arthur Ashe Statue on Monument Avenue.

The Virginia Manufactory of Arms Collection

Is an extensive display of arms manufactured by the Virginia Manufactory of Arms between 1802 to 1821.

Solving History's Mysteries: The History Discovery Lab

Regardless of your age, you will enjoy this interactive display provided by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that will introduce you to the basics of archaeology. Examine the displays, set down at a computer, and learn more about the state and its culture.

Silver in Virginia

Part of the Silver Displayed at The VA Historical SocietyCredit: Southerngirl09Some of the silver in this exhibit was imported from London, but the majority of the exhibit showcases pieces made by Virginians. As the State's economy prospered, the desire for silver increased. In 1820, there were many silversmiths creating silver pieces. The exhibit is arranged by the location where the silver was made. Included within these displays are pieces of silver that belonged to distinguished Virginians such as John Marshall.

In Closing

If you are planning a trip to Richmond, Virginia, please be sure to set aside time to visit the VA Historical Society. I live near Richmond, and enjoy visiting the museum and attending programs sponsored by the VHS. The VA Historical Society is next door to another fabulous museum, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, another 'must see' while in Richmond.

In addition to the museum, and the research library at this address, the VA Historical Society also owns Virginia House. This reconstructed sixteenth century manor house, brought over from England, is located at 4301 Sulgrave Road, in Richmond. Virginia House is open for tours, but they are by appointment only. For additional information and tour information, contact the VA Historical Society (

After seeing 'An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia,' at the VA Historical Society, Civil War enthusiasts will also want to add The Museum of the Confederacy, White House of the Confederacy, The Virginia State Capitol, and The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar to their list of 'must see' sites in Richmond.

Another site you might also enjoy is the Valentine Richmond History Center that is located in the historic Court End in downtown Richmond. It is a perfect complement to the VA Historical Society.


VA Historical Society