Richmond Travel Guide

Arts and culture

Museums and monuments

Several of the city's large general museums are located near the Boulevard. On Boulevard proper are the Virginia Historical Society and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, lending their name to what is sometimes called the Museum District. Nearby on Broad Street is the Science Museum of Virginia, housed in the neoclassical former 1919 Broad Street Union Station. Immediately adjacent is the Children's Museum of Richmond, and two blocks away, the Virginia Center for Architecture. Within the downtown are the Library of Virginia and the Valentine Richmond History Center. Elsewhere are the Virginia Holocaust Museum and the Old Dominion Railway Museum.

As the primary former Capital of the Confederate States of America, Richmond is home to many museums and battlefields of the American Civil War. Near the riverfront is the Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitors Center and the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, both housed in the former buildings of the Tredegar Iron Works, where much of the ordnance for the war was produced. In Court End, near the Virginia State Capitol, is the Museum of the Confederacy, along with the Davis Mansion, also known as the White House of the Confederacy; both feature a wide variety of objects and material from the era. The temporary home of former Confederate General Robert E. Lee still stands on Franklin Street in downtown Richmond. The history of slavery and emancipation are also increasingly represented: there is a former slave trail along the river that leads to Ancarrow's Boat Ramp and Historic Site which has been developed with interpretive signage, and in 2007, the Reconciliation Statue was placed in Shockoe Bottom, with parallel statues placed in Liverpool and Benin representing points of the Triangle Trade.

Other historical points of interest include St. John's Church, the site of Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech, and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, features many of his writings and other artifacts of his life, particularly when he lived in the city as a child, a student, and a successful writer. The John Marshall House, the home of the former Chief Justice of the United States, is also located downtown and features many of his writings and objects from his life. Hollywood Cemetery is the burial grounds of two U.S. Presidents as well as many Civil War officers and soldiers.

The city is home to many monuments and memorials, most notably those along Monument Avenue. Other monuments include the A.P. Hill monument, the Bill "Bojangles" Robinson monument in Jackson Ward, the Christopher Columbus monument near Byrd Park, and the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Libby Hill. Located near Byrd Park is the famous World War I Memorial Carillon, a 56-bell carillon tower. Dedicated in 1956, the Virginia War Memorial is located on Belvedere overlooking the river, and is a monument to Virginians who died in battle in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.

Agecroft Hall is a Tudor manor house and estate located on the James River in the Windsor Farms neighborhood of Richmond. The manor house was built in the late 15th century, and was originally located in the Agecroft area of Pendlebury, in the historic county of Lancashire in England.

Visual and performing arts

Richmond has a significant arts community, some of which is contained in formal public-supported venues, and some of which is more DIY, such as local privately owned galleries, and private music venues, nonprofit arts organizations, or organic and venueless arts movements (e.g., house shows, busking, itinerant folk shows). This has led to tensions, as the city Richmond City levied an "admissions tax" to fund large arts projects like CentreStage, leading to criticism that it is funding civic initiatives on the backs of the organic local culture. Traditional Virginian folk music, including blues, country, and bluegrass are also notably present, and play a large part in the annual Richmond Folk Festival. The following is a list of the more formal arts establishments (Companies, theaters, galleries, and other large venues) in Richmond:

Professional performing companies
Barksdale Theatre, Central Virginia's first nonprofit professional performing arts organization, founded in 1953 at the historic Hanover Tavern. When they began serving meals to lure Richmond residents out to Hanover, they created the nation's first dinner theater. Barksdale also became the first performing arts organization in Virginia to open its doors to an integrated audience. Today, Barksdale is recognized as Central Virginia's leading professional theater, with two home locations: Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern (with a four-play Country Playhouse Season) and Barksdale Theatre at Willow Lawn (with a five-play Signature Season).
Theatre IV, the Children's Theatre of Virginia, which was founded in 1975 by Bruce Miller and Phil Whiteway (who continue to hold the positions of Artistic and Managing Directors). Theatre IV is one of the largest theaters in Virginia and the second largest children's theater in the nation, touring regularly throughout 32 states plus the District of Columbia.
Empire Theater In 1986, Theatre IV purchased the historic Empire Theater in downtown Richmond, previously occupied by Keith Fowler's artistically adventurous but short-lived LORT troupe, the American Revels Company; Theatre IV asserted sound financial strategies and began a Family Playhouse series of mainstage (non-touring) productions. In 2001, Theatre IV assumed management of Barksdale Theatre. The two nonprofit companies maintain independent missions, boards, budgets, audits and assets, while sharing a common professional staff.
Richmond Ballet, founded in 1957.
Virginia Opera, the Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia, founded in 1974. Presents eight mainstage performances every year at the Carpenter Theater.
Other venues and companies

Other venues and companies include:

The Landmark Theatre, the city-owned opera house.
The Leslie Cheek Theater, after lying dormant for eight years, re-opened in 2011 in the heart of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts at 200 N. Boulevard. The elegant 500-seat proscenium stage was constructed in 1955 to match then museum director Leslie Cheek's vision of a theater worthy of a fine arts institution. Operating for years as the Virginia Museum Theater (VMT), it supported an amateur community theater under the direction of Robert Telford. When Cheek retired, he advised trustees on the 1969 appointment of Keith Fowler as head of the theater arts division and artistic director of VMT. Fowler led the theater to become the city's first resident Actors Equity\LORT theater, adding major foreign authors and the premieres of new American works to the repertory. Under his leadership VMT gained international recognition and more than doubled its subscription base. Successive artistic directors changed the name of the theater to "TheatreVirginia." Deficits caused TheatreVirginia to close its doors in 2002. Now, renovated and renamed for its founder, the Leslie Cheek is restoring live performance to VMFA and, while no longer supporting a resident company, it is available for special theatrical and performance events.
The National Theater is Richmond's premier music venue. It holds 1500 people and has shows regularly throughout the week. It opened winter of 2007 and was built in 1923. It features a state-of-the-art V-DOSC sound system, only the sixth installed in the country and only the third installed on the East Coast.
Visual Arts Center of Richmond, a not-for-profit organization that is one of the largest nongovernmental arts learning centers in the state of Virginia, founded in 1963. Serves 28,000 individuals annually.
Richmond CenterStage, a performing arts center that opened in Downtown Richmond in 2009 as part of an expansion of earlier facilities. The complex includes a renovation of the 1,700-seat Carpenter Theater and construction of a new multipurpose hall, community playhouse, and arts education center in the location of the old Thalhimers department store.
The Byrd Theatre in Carytown, a movie palace from the 1920s that features second-run movies, as well as the French Film Festival.
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, consistently ranked as one of the best in the nation.
Dogwood Dell, an amphitheatre in Byrd Park, where the Richmond Department of Recreation and Parks presents an annual Festival of the Arts.
SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community). SPARC was founded in 1981, and trained children to become "triple threats", meaning they were equally versed in singing, acting, and dancing. SPARC has become the largest community-based theater arts education program in Virginia and it offers classes to every age group, during the summer and throughout the year.
Richmond Triangle Theater presents works of interest to the local gay and lesbian community. In addition, in 2008, a new Gay Community Center opened on the city's north side, which hosts meetings of many kinds, and includes a large art gallery space.
Classic Amphitheatre at Strawberry Hill, the former summer concert venue located at Richmond International Raceway.

Commercial art galleries include Metro Space Gallery and Gallery 5 in a newly designated arts district.

Not-for-profit galleries include Visual Arts Center of Richmond and 1708 Gallery.

Architecture

Richmond is home to many significant structures, including some designed by notable architects. The city contains diverse styles, including significant examples of Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Neoclassical, Egyptian Revival, Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, Tudor Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Art Deco, Modernist, International, and Postmodern buildings.

Much of Richmond's early architecture was destroyed by the Evacuation Fire in 1865. It is estimated that 25% of all buildings in Richmond were destroyed during this fire. Even fewer now remain due to construction and demolition that has taken place since Reconstruction. In spite of this, Richmond contains many historically significant buildings and districts. Buildings remain from Richmond's colonial period, such as the Patteson-Schutte House and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum (Richmond, Virginia), both built before 1750.

Architectural classicism is heavily represented in all districts of the city, particularly in Downtown, the Fan, and the Museum District. Several notable classical architects have designed buildings in Richmond. The Virginia State Capitol was designed by Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau in 1785. It is the second-oldest US statehouse in continuous use (after Maryland's) and was the first US government building built in the neo-classical style of architecture, setting the trend for other state houses and the federal government buildings (including the White House and The Capitol) in Washington, D.C. Robert Mills designed Monumental Church on Broad Street. Adjoining it is the 1845 Egyptian Building, one of the few Egyptian Revival buildings in the United States. The firm of John Russell Pope designed Broad Street Station as well as Branch House on Monument Avenue, designed as a private residence in the Tudor style, now serving as the Virginia Center for Architecture. Broad Street Station (or Union Station), designed in the Beaux-Arts style, is no longer a functioning station but is now home to the Science Museum of Virginia. Main Street Station, designed by Wilson, Harris, and Richards, has been returned to use in its original purpose. The Jefferson Hotel and the Commonwealth Club were both designed by the classically trained Beaux-Arts architects Carrère and Hastings. Many buildings on the University of Richmond campus, including Jeter Hall and Ryland Hall, were designed by Ralph Adams Cram, most famous for his Princeton University Chapel and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

Richmond's urban residential neighborhoods also hold particular significance to the city's fabric. The Fan, the Museum District, Jackson Ward, Carver, Carytown, Oregon Hill and Church Hill (among others) are largely single use town homes and mixed use or full retail/dining establishments. These districts are anchored by large streets such as Franklin Street, Cary Street, the Boulevard, and Monument Avenue. The city's growth in population over the last decade has been concentrated in these areas.

Among Richmond's most interesting architectural features is its Cast-iron architecture. Second only to New Orleans in its concentration of cast iron work, the city is home to a unique collection of cast iron porches, balconies, fences, and finials. Richmond's position as a center of iron production helped to fuel its popularity within the city. At the height of production in the 1890, 25 foundries operated in the city employing nearly 3,500 metal workers. This number is seven times the number of general construction workers being employed in Richmond at the time which illustrates the importance of its iron exports. Porches and fences in urban neighborhoods such as Jackson Ward, Church Hill, and Monroe Ward are particularly elaborate, often featuring ornate iron casts never replicated outside of Richmond. In some cases cast were made for a single residential or commercial application.

Richmond is home to several notable instances of various styles of modernism. Minoru Yamasaki designed the Federal Reserve Building which dominates the downtown skyline. The architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has designed two buildings: the Library of Virginia and the General Assembly Offices at the Eighth and Main Building. Philip Johnson designed the WRVA Building. The Richard Neutra-designed Rice House, a residence on a private island on the James River, remains Richmond's only true International Style home. The W.G. Harris residence in Richmond was designed by famed early modern architect and member of the Harvard Five, Landis Gores. Other notable architects to have worked in the city include Rick Mather, I.M. Pei, and Gordon Bunshaft.

VCU is currently raising funds for a new Institute of Contemporary Arts designed by Steven Holl. The ICA is to be funded by private donors and will hopefully be opened by 2015.

source: Wikipedia

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