RICHMOND, Va. – A prominent Confederate statue that stood in Richmond for more than 100 years before demonstrators tore it down is back on display for the public.
The Jefferson Davis statue on Monument Avenue was erected in 1907. It took a few minutes for the crowd to tie a rope around the eight-foot Confederate statue and pull it down with a truck on June 10, 2020.
That statue was seen as the first domino to be toppled during social justice protests, which led to additional Confederate statues coming down.
Davis has since sat in storage at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
The Valentine Museum on East Clay Street will unveil its temporary exhibit featuring Davis’ statue to the public on Wednesday at 10 a.m. The statue is on loan from Richmond’s Black History Museum for six months.
Bill Martin, director of the Valentines Museum, said they had a long conversation on how to display the statue. The team decided to display Davis just as the public had seen last time – on its side and covered in graffiti.
Christina Vida said, “There are other items in our collection that address the history of racial oppression and Jim Crow laws. We haven’t had such powerful items that really tell the true story of what happened here in the summer of 2020.” , Curator of the Museum’s General Collection. “We want to make our visitors when they come downstairs they’re looking at a 2020 item.”
Visitor feedback will inform Valentine’s interpretation of the Edward Valentine Sculpture Studio, where the Davis statue was erected by the museum’s first president.
“This is an important time to talk about our shared history and to illuminate the way forward,” Martin said. “We want to create a safe space for people to learn, challenge, and confront their beliefs and prejudices about Richmond’s troubled past. Edward Valentine Sculpture Studio is an important part of Richmond history, so it’s time for us to hear from the community What’s important is how to present complex topics like Lost Cause and Jim Crow-era racism.”
Martin highlights a survey by Richmonders that revealed that 80% believed that Confederate statues should be displayed inside a museum.
In 2020, a spokesman for the Virginia Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans told CBS6 that establishing a museum would help preserve and protect the statues.
Davis’ connection to the museum and downtown Richmond building spans generations. Martin said the statue is returning to the place where it was erected.
“We know that Jefferson Davis came into the small building to measure. We have detailed drawings and measurements of his face,” he explained.
Valentine created sculptures that were displayed throughout the North and South during the Civil War, which contained strong messages about what was happening in Richmond. Martin said those messages are now described as a “lost cause.”
To encourage anyone to visit the new exhibit, Valentine has made admission to its museum free on Wednesdays.