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The Museum earned grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the White House restoration and for a succession of major exhibitions that explored its own history in relation to the “Lost Cause,” African-American slavery and life, and the lives of women in the Confederacy and the postwar South. The restored White House and its exhibits established The Museum of the Confederacy as a major national institution.
In the process of modernizing the institution, the Museum’s governing body also modernized itself abolishing the regent system in the 1980s. Then in 1991, 101 years after the Society’s formation, the board eliminated the men’s advisory board and elected the first male and black members to join its ranks, becoming a fully integrated modern non-profit corporate body.
Since the mid-1990s, the rapid growth of its neighbor, the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, has confronted the Museum with a new challenge: visitor access. After exploring and rejecting multiple options, the Museum’s board decided to expand from a single museum site to a multi-site museum system. This strategy would allow the Museum to display more of its collection at one time and take the collection to places where Civil War visitors are going already. The first new site in the system – in Appomattox, Virginia – opened to the public on March 31, 2012.
The opening of The Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox is not only the latest stage in the evolution of Richmond’s oldest museum, but represents the most important capital project occurring during the Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the Civil War. As it has since its beginning, The Museum of the Confederacy depends on public interest and support. To learn more about how you can help support this century-old institution, click here.