Letter from the President
What the VHS did on its summer vacation
By Paul A. Levengood, President and Chief Executive Officer
As the days of summer dwindled to a close, Virginia was treated to a pair of natural events in rapid succession. Hurricane Irene in late August was only the latest in a line of countless storms that through the years have battered Virginia’s coastline and downed trees with their high winds. The other event was far rarer. The magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered in Louisa County on August 23 was powerful enough to be felt far beyond the Old Dominion. Virginians had to look back to an 1897 quake in Giles County for anything as powerful. Earlier strong tremors rocked the state in 1833 and 1774.
You may be interested to know that when the earthquake shook the VHS, it caused only the briefest pause in what has been a tremendously busy summer. Here’s a summary of what took place.
The summer activity that left a lasting mark on the VHS is surely the replacement of the flooring in our lobby (both the Pusey Museum Shop and the Cabell Gallery), the Halsey Family Lecture Hall, and upstairs in the Evans Gallery. Out with the faded and oft-stained carpet and in with a two-toned slate floor that looks stunning. We hope that you will come by to see our new look. And remember, the VHS, especially with its elegant new facelift, is the perfect place to hold a meeting or reception for a business, alumni group, or association.
Our Family Open House this year on July 9 was too early to see the new flooring in place, but that didn’t stop 3,500 visitors from pouring through our doors to experience children’s programs, music, scavenger hunts, Civil War demonstrations, and costumed interpreters in the
galleries. This record crowd is a great reminder that even though we welcomed nearly 80,000 people to the VHS in the past year, there are many more who have never visited us. And of course, nothing encourages those people more than a word from someone like you, who understands the wonderful things that the VHS does to bring alive our state and national history. We also completed a successful series called August Afternoons, with the support of Rotary Club of Richmond, which welcomed families with children every day that month to participate in a history-themed hands-on activity, and two sessions of The Story of Virginia Teachers Institute, generously supported by Weinstein Properties.
These are only a few of the things that my hard-working colleagues did over the summer in addition to the regular work of serving scholars, visitors, members, and others. We also began work on our most ambitious conservation project ever, thanks to a grant from the Save America’s Treasures Program—that of the Charles Hoffbauer Memorial Military Murals. So rest assured. It will take more than an earthquake or hurricane to deter us from our mission: "Connecting people to America’s past through the unparalleled story of Virginia."
Posted October 2011
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