The American Civil War Museum tells the story of the Civil War through exhibits at three separate locations in Richmond and Appomattox, Virginia. Historic Tredegar on the riverfront in downtown Richmond is home to the flagship exhibits. The 1836 iron works and gun foundry that houses the exhibit splits it into three stages, What Caused the Civil War, the War Years, and Legacies.
Each story is told through interactive films, artifacts, and hands-on activities. Artifacts and history are interpreted through three viewpoints, those of the Confederates, the Unionists, and African Americans. The White House and Museum of the Confederacy offer two experiences. The house itself is a National Historic Landmark. The home was the executive mansion of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, and his family from 1861 through 1865. Daily tours through the home highlight the detailed restoration that honors its wartime appearance. The home is filled with period furnishings and artifacts. The permanent collection at the adjoining Museum of the Confederacy educates visitors on the history of the Confederacy through its formation, to the war, to the capture of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy’s surrender at Appomattox. Items on display include the sword carried by the Confederate commander “Stonewall” Jackson. Robert E Lee’s field equipment and Confederate Army General J.E.B. Stuart’s famous plumed hat. The collection also includes 13 of the Pickett’s Division battle flags from the Battle of Gettysburg, historic Confederate flags, and several artifacts carried by soldiers such as jewelry made from human hair and other items. The permanent exhibit at the American Civil War Museum at Appomattox consists of over 400 artifacts, documents and photographs that tell the story of the end of the war and General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at the site. The uniform and sword that Robert E. Lee wore to the surrender are included in the exhibit. Also at Appomattox is the “When Johnny Came Marching Home” exhibit which tells the story of the ‘Boys in Grey,’ veterans who returned to the south after the war, and commemorates those who lost their lives in battle. Items in the exhibit include Confederate uniforms, historical veteran’s group publications and more.
History: Historic Tredegar is the home of the American Civil War Center and dates back to 1836 as an iron works. The White House of the Confederacy was designed by Robert Mills, the same architect who designed the Washington Monument. Mills was Thomas Jefferson’s only architecture student. The home was completed in 1818 for John Brockenbrough, president of the Bank of Virginia, who was an acquaintance of Mills’. In 1861 it was sold to the City of Richmond, and became the executive mansion of Jefferson Davis, his wife and their three children when the Confederacy moved their headquarters from Alabama to Virginia. The American Civil War Museum in Appomattox opened in 2012, and is situated on 8 acres of land. To the northeast is the site of the meeting where Robert E Lee surrendered to Ulysses S Grant. To the south is the site of the Battle of Appomattox. The museum is connected to several well-respected Civil War Historians who have done research on the museum’s collections of artifacts and documents as well as served on the board.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The Museum is a host to a variety of educational programs for children and adults. Children’s programs include guided tours geared towards kids, canon firing demonstrations and “living history” programs with period actors. Civil War summer camps are held at Appomattox. Adult programs include guided tours, and lectures by historians and other Civil War experts. History Happy Hours take place once monthly and offer talks by different speakers with food and drinks. Book Talks invite in authors who have written Civil War based non-fiction.
Past and Future Exhibits: Past Exhibitions have included “The Confederate Navy,” which showcased items on loan from other institutions including navy uniforms, ship models, and other artifacts. “Robert E Lee: The Exhibition” was the largest ever exhibit solely focused on the life and career of the Confederate General. “Every Kind of Wound and Disease” educated visitors on life in the Confederate Medical Department during the war. A new museum at Historic Tredegar will open in 2018, funded in part by a $600,000 grant from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation in New York. The new building will feature over 7,000 square feet of space for the display of the permanent collection, as well as a special exhibit devoted to Richmond, Virginia’s role in the war.
500 Tredegar Street, Richmond, VA 23219, Phone: 804-649-1861
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