Museum of the Confederacy.
Beside the Confederate White House.
September 16, 2007
The Museum of the Confederacy (MOC) officials still have a problem.
From this site, October 11, 2005:
According to current figures, the Museum's annual visitation has dropped from 92,000 in the 90's to 42,000 now. For a museum that survives on visitation, this is a catastrophe.
Having abandoned their plans to move the White House and Museum elsewhere in Richmond, and apparently having dismissed moving the Museum to another location, the Museum of the Confederacy officials, according to printed reports, have decided to divide their extensive relic collection between three Virginia locations. The White House of the Confederacy would not move and the Museum offices would remain in Richmond. As the Times-Dispatch reported it, this would become a museum "system" rather than a single museum.
Initial reports indicate that the remote museums will be located at National Park Service visitor centers on Civil War battlefields. Although we have heard nothing official about it, we believe that the Museums would not be located on National Park Service property. They would probably be located on privately owned sections of the battlefields bordering N.P.S. property. This would be possible since, in most cases, the N.P.S. does not own all of the battlefield land surrounding their parks (Malvern Hill may be an exception).
The locations, according the Times-Dispatch, selected for the Museums are Chancellorsville and Appomattox. The third location has not yet been announced but an annoucement may come as soon as the end of this month (September, 2007).
Should it be done?
Here is our 2 cents worth:
We have no overriding objection to dividing the relics into three museums.
Obviously something has to be done. Visitation to the relics will certainly be greater at the combined three sites, than it would be at the one site in Richmond. The question is whether the increase in visitation will be significant enough to make the M.O.C. operation financially viable. Only time and fifteen million dollars will tell.
There are some basic concerns, however.
One of the draws of the Museum was the fact that it housed "The greatest collection of Confederate Civil War relics in the world". It still will own those relics, but the remote museums will each only house "one-third of the greatest collection of Confederate Civil War relics in the world". To a person visiting all three selected battlefields, that may not be a problem (although you will have to pay three admission fees), but, if you're only going to one battlefield, will the attraction to go to the single museum be as great?
On the other hand, the relics are going to be more accessible to more people by being distributed around the state rather than being grouped in Richmond.
Are we of two minds on this? You bet we are. Living in the greater Richmond area, we regret that the relics will be moving out of town, but I also know that I do not presently visit the Museum as much as I would if it were possible to get around the VCU monster.
So we say, a tentative, "Let's do it." If the split keeps the collection viable and more accessible to visitors, it can't be all bad.
(This opinion supercedes our earlier one regarding the proposed move of the Confederate White House- Ed.)
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