The Valentine is a museum in Richmond, Virginia, the same city as our V and W Cleaners, that collects, preserves, and interprets the history of Richmond. In 1898, Mann S. Valentine II founded the first museum in Richmond.
The Valentine provides rotating exhibits, walking tours, programs, special events, research opportunities, and more to engage, educate, and challenge a wide audience in the early 21st century. The Valentine also features the National Historic Landmark Wickham House.
Meat Juice Prosperity and New Beginnings
The first museum treasures were purchased with money made from selling Valentine’s Meat Juice.
Mann S. Valentine II funded the museum with his 1870 health tonic Valentine’s Meat Juice. Mann and his kids got rich from Valentine Meat Juice.
The Valentines began collecting in the domains of archaeology, anthropology, fine arts, and decorative arts in the late 19th century. In their search for antiquities, his boys excavated Native American earthwork mounds in historic Cherokee settlements in western North Carolina. They caused significant damage to the mounds.
In 1892, Mann laid the foundation for the museum. He left his art and antiquities collection, the 1812 John Wickham House, and a $50,000 donation to Richmond to construct the Valentine Museum. When the Valentine Museum opened in 1898, its art and artifact collection served as the basis for the shows. The Valentine Museum was the first private museum in the city of Richmond at the time.
Edward Virginius Valentine, the sibling of Mann S. Valentine II, was similarly interested in history and a renowned sculptor. From 1898 until he died in 1930, Edward Valentine was the museum’s first president. According to the museum’s website, Edward Valentine bequeathed an extensive collection of sculptures, documents, furniture, and artifacts to the institution.
The Valentine got George S. Cook and Huestis Pratt Cook’s Richmond photos from his widow’s attic.
The Development of The City’s Oldest Museum
In 1924, the museum requested Laura Bragg, the director of the Charleston Museum, to help with a restructuring, which began four years later. It was the first significant extension and refurbishment of the museum. InToisplay antiquities, the museum acquired three-row homes adjacent to the Wickham House as part of the project. The museum rebuilt the Wickham house to recreate the about 1812 era in which John Wickham and his family resided there.
The Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission submitted the Valentine Museum buildings to the National Register of Historic Places on May 20, 1969. On 11 June 1969: Valentine Museum was added.
In the 1970s, a major renovation and enlargement added a new wing to house more objects and increase public exhibit space. Also rebuilt and extended were the Row Houses which served as the principal museum area.
The Valentine recruited Frank Jewell in 1985 and took efforts to revive the institution, thereby reviving it. The board requested that he concentrate on how the museum might address topics such as racism, the southern black experience, and the city’s convoluted past; as a consequence, the museum received national attention. In 1988, the Museum collaborated with Mary Tyler McGraw, a former member of the National Museum of American History’s Afro-American Communities project. She produced the exhibit “In Bondage and Freedom: Antebellum Black Life in Richmond” This endeavor engaged social scientists and historians of African-American culture.
The Valentine name was changed to “Richmond Stories” in August 2014. In October of that year, Valentine’s public galleries reopened. The improvements included the addition of more accessible gallery spaces, a new teaching center, a lobby, and a multipurpose area.
The Valentine assumed administration of the historic property First Freedom Center in July 2015. To learn about more Richmond history visit our website now and read about Downtown Richmond, Virginia. Contact V and W Cleaning for cleaning assistance and pricing information at (804)315-9573 when you’re ready!