St. Valentine’s History Museum kicks off $12 million renovation and expansion

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The upcoming Valentine’s Day renovation project will revamp the history museum’s collections and offices. (Courtesy of Valentine’s Day)

A museum dedicated to Richmond’s history is planning its future and launching its biggest capital project since 2014.

The Valentine plans to spend $12.5 million to update collection storage and offices, among other renovations. Construction is expected to begin later this year and be completed by the end of 2023. The museum will remain open to visitors.

The project will add 9,600 square feet to the museum at 1015 E. Clay St., but within the facilities’ existing footprint. The museum currently spans about 50,000 square feet, according to city property records online.

Bill Martin

“While the storage is adequate now, we want to make sure it’s state of the art,” museum director Bill Martin said. “It makes all of our spaces more efficient and makes the work of conservation staff and researchers more manageable and safer.”

He continued, “This project is a once-in-a-generation project. We won’t have to do this again for a long time. »

The project is part of the museum’s ongoing efforts to assess the relevance of more than one million items in its collection and to dispose of items not closely related to Richmond. Martin said the plan is to donate unwanted items to other museums.

Since opening in 1898, the Valentine has evolved from an art and history museum with no particular focus to one dedicated to Richmond’s history over the years, according to the museum’s website.

The process will free up space for new artifacts, including the Style Weekly archive that the museum acquired in 2021.

“Due to the reduction in unrelated materials, we will have space for new collections, and Style is one of them,” Martin said.

The price of the project includes construction as well as expenses related to reviewing the collection and relocating artifacts during the process. These expenses will be covered by an ongoing $16 million fundraising effort that is expected to end this year. The remaining funds will be used to help with operations, Martin said.

“In every campaign, we have an endowment element. You can build the building, but you have to make sure you can operate it and cover the costs,” Martin said.

Kjellstrom + Lee is the general contractor for the project. Glave and Holmes is the architect of the project.

Martin said the project is the museum’s largest since 2014, when he spent $4 million to upgrade the exhibition space.

While the renovation project largely focuses on behind-the-scenes work at the museum, it will also renovate Edward Valentine’s sculpture studio, which is an exhibit, Martin said.

Valentine’s work included depictions of Confederates, such as the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis that protesters pulled down from its perch on Monument Avenue in 2020.

“The studio project is really an opportunity to start talking about what happened during the protests, but also to understand how the monuments came into existence,” Martin said.

Researchers will have limited access to museum materials during the project. The museum plans to begin the process of packing and moving archives and artifacts that are not on display this month.

Martin said the museum, which also added a location to Ms Bee’s juice bar last year, has seen a steady flow of visitors in recent weeks despite the pandemic.

“Our weekend visit is going really, really well,” he said. “It’s a little surprising that it’s as strong as it is given where we are in COVID.”

The Valentine reported $2 million in total revenue and $2.7 million in expenses for fiscal 2020, according to tax filings.

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