Richmond’s new Civil War museum aims to shatter conventional views of the conflict

by:CAI YI JIE     2019-10-08
As workers scramble to prepare for the opening of the city\'s new American Civil War Museum in May 4, a piece of rain beats the city\'s towering glass walls.
It seems to fit the Federal Capitol-
Above is the gray sky, below is the gray stone, opposite the hall is the abandoned brick arch of the former Tredegar Iron Factory.
But behind that destruction
At the heart of the $25 million facility, it was cleverly preserved
The exhibitions are designed to break expectations of the Civil War Museum.
Yes, all the artifacts you expect are: Robert E. Lee’s hat. J. E. B. Stuart’s boots.
Federation flag.
And \"Hey, Mabel!
\"Strange: A biscuit fossil at Siege of Vicksburg, a pocket magazine separated by deadly bullets.
However, the difference is that they tell the story.
Museum curator Christie Coleman curator Cathy Wright and his staff and contractors have set out with the greatest ambition to reconstruct the way visitors view this important part of American history and the way the past continues to echo.
The project was laid a few days after the 2017 violent white supremacist rally in Charlottsville.
Today, as it is about to unveil, Charlottsville remains at the top of the national dialogue on race.
The highest elected governor of Virginia. Ralph Northam (D)
He was involved in a scandal about the black face of his youth.
Coleman says the root of these ethnic tensions is what the museum is trying to solve.
Not by emphasizing division, but by making the civil war look personal and relevant, as the story of the people involved tells.
This means including the views of women and people of color from the north and south.
All of this is presented by a display that emphasizes jagged fragments --
A reconstructed house was blown up into pieces, and its wooden side panels were sprayed out of the ceiling and turned into a video screen with horns --
The color is not coordinated.
On Friday, Wright said in a media preview that the theme was \"linked to the idea of a broken country,\" an expansion and merger of two old museums. “We . . .
Hopefully people go into something that might disorient their expectations of the Civil War story, \"said John Murphy of Solid Light, the company that designed the exhibition.
One of the original museums that were included in the new site is attached to the Southern Union\'s White House, where Jefferson Davis planned the war with his generals.
The facility has one of the world\'s most extensive collection of Confederate artifacts, and in the years after the Civil War, women from southern states gathered to commemorate their \"lost cause \".
\"While there are 250 permanent display items in the old building, there are 550 new buildings.
Storage space has increased by nearly 15,000.
Although the Southern Union museum sought to expand its description of history, showing the contributions of women and the people who were enslaved, it was bound to the traditional display: North and South, slavery and freedom.
\"We want to get rid of myths and go back to history,\" Coleman said . \" He helped lead the creation of a new institution.
The new gallery shows women as well as Native American, Asian and Hispanic people, as well as black people in freedom and slavery, as well as the usual white male generals.
Many photos have been colored to bring them to life.
The result is surprising, just as seeing modern people return to the historical environment.
A magnificent wall
The size of a gallery shows eight members of Congress in 1870 Virginia after the war.
It\'s all black.
On the other side of the room they stared at an iconic painting by Lee and Gen.
Thomas \"stone wall\" Jackson met at their last meeting.
Many of the stories of the museum are intended to oppose traditional ideas about war.
For example, in 1861, wives who forced their husbands to fight the Yankees sometimes decided in a few years that it was not worth it.
Some slaves were initially worried about leaving their plantation, where life seemed relatively safe.
Even some of the most traditional artifacts have surprising stories.
The last gallery, set in the fall of Richmond on 1865, shows a square bunlian battle flag.
The flag happened to be caught in Richmond by president\'s younger son, Tad Lincoln, who visited two days after their surrender on 1865.
Tad reportedly waved it from the White House window on his birthday shortly before his father was assassinated.
The museum is located in the center of Richmond, near the James River, which was once the center of southern industry.
The tridega steel plant is an arsenal of the Southern Union, producing many large guns and locomotives.
It survived the evacuation fire in Richmond and lasted until its 1950 s.
As the opening day approaches, the museum has not yet been completed.
The floor is paved with cartons, surrounded by hardware blocks for power tools and display cabinets.
The hum of hand drills, hammer strikes and technicians rushed to complete the exhibition.
A woman carefully picked up her hair from John Wilks booth.
A colleague works near a tray with a shoe, a canteen, a frying pan and other items found on the battlefield.
Coleman says it makes sense for Richmond to play a leading role in redefining Civil War heritage.
Virginia has more fighting and casualties than any other state, and today it has more Confederate monuments.
Coleman, who is African-American, helped lead a city council to reflect on the fate of the Southern Union statue on Richmond\'s iconic Monument Avenue.
The result is a plan that calls for \"background\" to show a more complete historical background so that the statue loses any power as a symbol of white rule.
The leaders of Richmond have yet to figure out how to do this.
But just across the town from Monument Avenue, the American Civil War Museum is a bold attempt to show how it looks.
\"This is a story about us,\" she said . \"
\"This is to bring together [the narrative]
Civil War].
It\'s not just alliances and alliances, it\'s not just African-Americans and white people.
This is an American story that affects people from coast to coast, and we don\'t talk about it. ”
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