The American Civil War Museum, which opens May 4, tells the story of the Civil War from an array of perspectives. (Julia Rendleman/The Washington Post)
RICHMOND — Sheets of rain pounded the towering glass walls of this city’s new American Civil War Museum as workers raced to finish preparations for its May 4 opening. It seemed fitting for the Capitol of the Confederacy — gray skies above, gray stone below, and across the lobby the ruined brick archways of the former Tredegar Ironworks.
But behind that ruin — artfully preserved as the centerpiece of the $25 million facility — the exhibits aim to shatter expectations of what a Civil War museum looks like.
Yes, there are all the artifacts you’d expect: Robert E. Lee’s hat. J.E.B. Stuart’s boots. A Confederate battle flag.
And there are “Hey, Mabel!” oddities: a fossilized biscuit from the siege of Vicksburg, a pocket journal split by a fatal bullet.
What’s different, though, is the story that they tell. Museum chief Christy Coleman, curator Cathy Wright and their staffs and contractors have set out with the grandest of ambitions to reframe the way visitors view this crucial part of American history and the way that past continues to reverberate.
The project’s groundbreaking took place a few days after the 2017 violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Today, as it nears its unveiling, Charlottesville remains atop the national dialogue about race. And Virginia’s top elected official, Gov. Ralph Northam (D), is embroiled in a scandal about a blackface incident from his youth.
The roots of those racial tensions, Coleman said, are exactly what the museum is trying to address. Not by highlighting division but by...
REST OF ARTICLE:https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/richmonds-new-civil-war-museum-aims-to-shatter-conventional-views-of-the-conflict/2019/04/26/f0b7e7ce-6785-11e9-a1b6-b29b90efa879_story.html