Discussion American Civil War Museum

Aug 15, 2017
A few weeks ago I mentioned that my wife and I would soon be visiting the American Civil War Museum in Richmond. I was asked by a fellow member to follow up with a post-visit post about the ACWM and I am doing so now.

A visitor can spend most of a day if they read every exhibit and match every piece to its description. There are interactive displays that can also add to the experience. Other visitors might blow through the entire museum in an hour without getting any real learning done. In addition to the tour of the museum, we also went on the 45-minute walking tour of the Tredegar plant. The walk was entirely outside but it was well-presented by a guide named Chuck, who looks like veteran NPS ranger Chuck Teague. Chuck of Richmond told me that he has heard that from others. Photography is allowed in the museum but you have to be able to get your pictures without flash. My cellphone camera worked out perfectly.

My wife and I both felt the displays were attractive, informative and well thought out. There is a general flow through the war as through the years but some of the displays could have gone just as easily in a different part of the museum. Like most museums today, the lighting is a bit dim (this protects the displays) and it was difficult for me to see the grapeshot barrel of a LeMat revolver in one display. However, the LaMat in the Jeb Stuart display had a bit more ight and I could see the pistol perfectly. Don't ask me why, but the LaMat (which did not always function properly) interests me for some reason and I like to look at them when I see them. The second floor had a display about greenbacks and the birth of our current money system. There is also a very nice meeting room up there.

Having read so much venom toward the facility here among other members of the page weeks ago, I was not sure what to expect. What we found was a place jam-packed with artifacts, the kind of thing you'd want from a museum about the Civil War. Among the first displays you see is one devoted to Robert E. Lee, a Virginian of some renown (weak attempt at a joke there) and I reminded myself that the facility I was visiting was in Virginia. Lee's story was central to the war and important to the state of Virginia. There are displays about POWs, the US Colored Troops, various battles and some of the better-known soldiers. Importantly, the various roles women played during the war were included (from posing as men to serve in combat; spy for the two sides; and, for the first time, they were trained to be nurses). My wife commented that there are many Civil War Museums and they try now to be inclusive, but this was the first she has seen that started out to be inclusive. I agree.

I now believe that much of the anger I read here came from individuals who had not yet visited the museum. I suspect the place was mis-represented to them and they reacted to what they had been told.

We both give the American Civil War Museum two thumbs up.


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Oct 9, 2017
Southern Virginia
Excellent. Glad to hear that and thanks for the report. We haven't visited yet, but we were at Tredegar for a lecture just prior to the grand opening and they were giving out stickers that read "Change the Narrative" and "Learn the Whole Story." I'm very glad to learn that by "whole story" they really meant "whole story." Every aspect of the story is fascinating and it would be a pity to exclude any of it. I'm looking forward to seeing it for myself now!

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