"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
Featured Promotion

Experience the nation’s most popular toys and their stories through three imagined living rooms that bring the decades back to life.

Toys of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s

A Material World

Photographs of the 1980s from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

“’Cause we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl.” Madonna, 1984

From hair to defense budgets, shoulder pads to tax cuts, the 1980s were BIG.

After a defeat in war, disillusionment, advances in civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, and disco, Americans became status seekers and shopaholics—the “Me Generation” was born and Madonna’s “Material Girl” was their anthem. The Eighties are remembered by many as a time of excess and extremes. But this materialism was not embraced or experienced by all Americans, and many pushed the boundaries of what was conventional.

The photographs from the Richmond Times-Dispatch were important when they appeared in the 1980s as evidence of news being reported at the time. Today, they make real what has become legend to a generation who know the events of the decade were important without knowing why. They also help us understand today’s culture, which is being shaped by ’80s kids who are bringing that decade’s values, worldviews, and attitudes back.

Exhibition Information

From
Sat Nov 18 2017, 10:00amSun Mar 4 2018, 5:00pm
Open
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
In Susan and David Goode Gallery

Highlighted objects from A Material World

Photograph of Stephanie Lane wearing seven Swatch watches. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Enter Fullscreen More information
Photograph of Stephanie Lane wearing seven Swatch watches. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Swatch (“Swiss + watch”) was founded in 1983 by a Swiss watchmaker in response to the “quartz crisis” when Asian-made digital watches competed against traditional European-made mechanical watches.
Photograph of East German guards standing on Berlin Wall. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Enter Fullscreen More information
Photograph of East German guards standing on Berlin Wall. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Dozens of East German guards stood on top of the Berlin Wall and watched people break loose large and small chunks.
Photography of Prince Rogers Nelson. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Enter Fullscreen More information
Photograph of Prince Rogers Nelson. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Over the course of his four-decade career, the artist born Prince Rogers Nelson became known as much for his gender-bending, seductive fashion as for his boundary-pushing music.
Photograph of a DeLorean car. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Enter Fullscreen More information
Photograph of a DeLorean car. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The DeLorean might have simply faded into obscurity had it not been for the movie "Back to the Future" (1985), where high school student Marty McFly is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling version of the car
Photograph of Terry Brawtley. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Enter Fullscreen More information
Photograph of Terry Brawtley. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
This outfit—modeled here by Terry Brawtley—was heavily influenced by clothes popular among urban breakdancers and by the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which was released the previous year.
Photograph of Stephanie Lane wearing seven Swatch watches. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Photograph of Stephanie Lane wearing seven
Photograph of East German guards standing on Berlin Wall. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Photograph of East German guards standing
Photography of Prince Rogers Nelson. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Photograph of Prince Rogers Nelson.
Photograph of a DeLorean car. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Photograph of a DeLorean car.
Photograph of Terry Brawtley. Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Photograph of Terry Brawtley.

This exhibition was produced in partnership with the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Support provided by the Lettie Pate Evans Changing Exhibition Fund