The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design in Richmond, Virginia is located in a historic, 27,000 square foot home built in 1919 by the famed architect, John Russell Pope. The home was built in the Tudor Revival style for bank owner and financier John Kerr Branch (1865-1930), and offered the Branch family ample space to house their collection of European textiles, tapestries and furnishings.
It is the only example of Tudor revival style architecture in the United States in which the interior has remained intact. The House that Pope Built is a permanent exhibit at the museum which uses photographs and other media to interpret the history of the home, including that of the architect, the Branch family, the surrounding neighborhood, and the 16th century English house which inspired the design of the Branch family home. Livable Communities for Virginia is a permanent exhibit that explores the role of architecture in Virginia and the 10 Principals for Livable Communities as outlined by the American Institute of Architects. The Branch family home is located in the Monument Avenue Historic District, a community that has been on the National Register of Historic places since 1967. It is the only singular structure in that neighborhood to have it’s own place on the registry.
History: Architect John Russell Pope was famous for his designs of the National Archives, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the West Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, as well as the Broad Street Station in Richmond, now the Science Museum of Virginia. Although those projects were all completed after the Branch House, the Branch House has benefited from standing as the only example of domestic work completed by the 20th century’s most prestigious design firms. In 1953, The Branch Family donated the home to the precursor of the United Way. In 1982 the home changed hands again and became the Richmond headquarters of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1984 the home was granted a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The Virginia Center for Architecture Foundation purchased the house in 2003. The home hosted the VCA Foundation offices as well as the offices for the Virginia Society for the American Institute of Architects, and its magazine, Inform, which is now defunct. The VCA Foundation opened the home to the public as a museum in 2005. The property allowed for the exponential expansion of the programs and collection of the Virginia Architecture Foundation. Thus, 10 years later, in 2015, the Foundation expanded to encompass the broader mission of the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design. Currently, the museum is home to the American Institute of Architects Virginia (AIAVA) as well as a rare book shop and the museum gift shop.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Museum tours take guests through the first and second floors of the museum. The 45-minute tour focuses on the architecture of the house as well as the history of the Branch family. Group tours, which must be scheduled in advance, include “the House that Branch Built,” an architectural tour of the home that focuses on the unique details which make it a classis example of the Tudor revival style, as well as the history of the architect, John Pope. Family Days offer all-ages hands-on activities and programming. The Gingerbread House Workshop takes place each winter season. Children decorate and take home their own gingerbread houses. The Holiday Open House offers scavenger hunts and other activities in the home while it’s decorated for the holiday season the way it would have been when the Branch family lived there. The museum offers internship opportunities to current undergraduate students in the areas of marketing, education, development and curation. Internships are semester based.
Past and Future Exhibits: Visiting exhibitions have included “The National Mall.” This exhibit, made possible by the National Mall Coalition explores design suggestions and the future role of architects for improvements to the landscape and functionality of the National Mall in Washington DC. “History Interpreted: Framing the Historic Event” showcased poster art by graphic design students at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. “Ballet Pas de Deux: An Exhibition of Dance and Architecture” explored the connection between choreographing motion and designing buildings as two forms of creativity. The exhibit featured over 30 photographs as well as a sound and light installation.
2501 Monument Avenue Richmond, VA 23220, Phone: 804-644-3041
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