FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Stacy Burrs
February 6, 2014 (804) 317-0641
THE BLACK HISTORY MUSEUM AND CULTURAL CENTER RECEIVES $500,000 FROM ALTRIA
Contribution Helps Museum Move One Step Closer to New Home in Jackson Ward
Richmond, Va. – The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia (Museum) announced today that it received a $500,000 donation from Altria Group (Altria) to support its Freedom, Equality and the Law exhibit. The exhibit is part of the Museum’s “Bold Vision, Bright Future” campaign to renovate and repurpose the Leigh Street Armory in Jackson Ward as the Museum’s new home.
“We value our enduring partnership with Altria and the company’s tremendous support to preserve Virginia’s African American heritage,” said Marilyn West, Chairperson of the Museum’s Board. “This generous gift helps significantly to enhance the Museum’s cultural programs and revitalize the Leigh Street Armory, a treasured cultural asset.”
“The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia serves an important role in preserving and honoring Virginia’s Black history,” said Jennifer Hunter, Altria Client Services, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs. “Altria and its family of companies are committed to supporting arts and culture organizations that enrich the places we call home. We are particularly pleased that our support of the Museum’s exhibits and programs will help bring to life such an important building within Jackson Ward.”
In 2012, the Museum’s Board announced its plan to repurpose Jackson Ward’s historic Leigh Street Armory as the new home for the Museum. Currently located at 00 Clay Street, the Museum’s new location will alleviate issues including the lack of visibility on a highly residential, one-way street; extremely limited parking; and interior space insufficient for exhibitions, programming and administration. Size constraints at the Museum’s current location have made it challenging to secure prestigious exhibitions; host formal gatherings; or provide plentiful, comfortable seating and meeting spaces.
The Leigh Street Armory, built in 1895 as the First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory, was the only 19th-century armory constructed exclusively for a Black militia. Listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Registry, this architectural and historic treasure stands empty, in need of both renovation and occupancy.
“The Bold Vision, Bright Future campaign represents an unparalleled opportunity to partner with Altria and others to preserve Richmond’s history; significantly increase its cultural assets; and attract tourists and businesses to our community from across the country and around the world,” said Stacy Burrs, CEO of the Museum . “This is an exciting time for economic development and African American history and culture in Richmond.”
The Museum is expected to host its grand re-opening at the Armory in early 2015 and is scheduled to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that abolished slavery. The Freedom, Equality and the Law exhibit, one component of the Museum’s grand re-opening, will incorporate technology to help tell the story of how Richmond, Va. played a critically important role locally and nationally to shape African American history. Finally, the Museum will premiere additional exhibitions, performances, educational programs and community events to draw diverse audiences and serve as a regional hub for learning about African American history in Virginia.
Additional early support for the Museum Armory project comes from Dominion, the Cabell Foundation, the Parsons Foundation, HDL and others.
The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia
Founded in 1981 by Carroll Anderson, Sr. and opened to the public in 1991, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia seeks to become the Commonwealth’s primary institution for educating the public about the many contributions made by Black Americans. The Museum aims to preserve and honor Virginia’s Black history and culture by creating a welcoming, interactive environment where the focus is on the African-American experience. The museum serves as both a repository for relevant African-American artifacts and records and a gathering place where all can honor African-American contributions to the Virginia and American story. It is the only museum in the Commonwealth of Virginia whose core mission is to cover the full range of Virginia’s African-American history and culture.
On May 24, 2013, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia formally announced that Dominion Resources, Inc. has committed $500,000.0o to its Bold Vision, Bright Future campaign to renovate the Leigh Street Armory and make it the Museum’s new home. “The importance of this project cannot be understated as the historical significance of black history in Richmond is really quite remarkable,” Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones said. “The generous gift announced by Dominion today moves us further on our way to realizing the dream of establishing the historic Leigh Street Armory as an adaptive reuse project and preserving a valuable cultural asset.”
Pictured (left to right) — Dr. Monroe E. Harris, Jr.,chairman-BHM capital campaign; City of Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones; Thomas F. Farrell, chairman, president, and CEO-Dominion; Stacy L. Burrs, president-BHM Board of Directors; Dr. Maureen Elgersman Lee, executive director-BHM. Photo courtesy of Dominion.