Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia Museum of History & Culture to close until early April

- BY COLLEEN CURRAN ccurran@timesdispa­ (804) 649-6151 Twitter: @ collcurran

The Virginia Museum of History & Culture at 428 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard is closing to the public starting Monday, Dec. 14, for its $30 million expansion and renovation project. The museum plans to remain closed until early April.

The renovation will bring a new entrance and great hall, a new café with indoor and outdoor seating, a second-floor event terrace, a new immersive theater, new exhibition spaces, a new research library with a rare book and manuscript suite, and a bigger parking lot.

“Our work to reimagine your state history museum is gaining momentum by the day — running ahead of schedule in some areas. As such, we have selected Monday, Dec. 14, as the first day of our planned winter closure in order to expedite some of our most significan­t constructi­on,” Jamie Bosket, president and CEO of the museum, said in a statement. “[W]e are also mindful of surging COVID-19 cases regionally and dramatical­ly-reduced visitation to the museum — both of which also informed our decision to move ahead more quickly with our work.”

Online programmin­g will continue at the museum, such as virtual gallery walks, talks with creators and educators, and the online shop will remain open.

The museum broke ground for the expansion in October. Several weeks later, the museum removed a large grove of 100-year magnolias lining Sheppard Street, much to the dismay of Museum District residents. The museum said that the Southern magnolias were nearing the end of their typical lifespan of 80 to

120 years. The museum plans to replace them with trees of the same variety. More than 40 have been ordered planted next year.

The museum is changing its layout, expanding the parking lot andmoving its green space from the center of the parking lot to be adjacent to the museum. The new green space will have seating, lighting and landscapin­g and will feature a grand staircase leading up to the new second-story terrace.

The renovated museum will stay roughly the same size at 250,000 square feet, but it will have many new features including an immersive theater where the floor will be a screen and a new exhibit space called “Our Commonweal­th,” meant to be a companion to “The Story of Virginia” exhibit.

“Starting with our name change in 2018, we’ve been reinventin­g who we are and what we do,” Bosket said in September when announcing the expansion project. The museum began as a research library and study facility but has changed over the years, especially in the last few decades, to become amuseum for Virginia’s history. “It’s our goal to be a welcoming, community-centered cultural attraction — a place for all Virginians,” Bosket said.

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