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November 17, 2013

Civil War museums merge

(Continued)

RICHMOND, Va. —

The new museum will be located along the James River, at the Tredegar Ironworks, where much of the South’s cannons were forged during the war. It’s also the home of the Civil War Center. The museums said bringing together both institutions will “further establish Richmond as the foremost Civil War destination in the United States.”

Richmond continues to draw from its past to bring tourists to the city. Efforts include the creation of a Slave Trail tracing the city’s past as a lucrative center in the commerce of enslaved people to a more contemporary narrative offering tours that highlight the Thomas Jefferson-designed Capitol and other central Virginia locations used in Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln.”

At the new attraction, Coleman will share the title of CEO with Waite Rawls, president of the Confederacy museum. It dates to 1890 and traces the origins of much of its collections to the men who fought for the South and their descendants, in particular Lee and other Southern military leaders. The museums have collaborated in the past, Rawls said the merger is “a natural evolution of that relationship.”

The Museum of the Confederacy claims the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Confederate artifacts: thousands of carefully preserved battle flags, dolls used to smuggle medicine to troops, Jackson’s sword. Only a fraction of the collection is on display at the museum’s downtown Richmond site.

se of the Confederacy.

While the Civil War Sesquicentennial has drawn visitors to the museum, overall it has seen a sharp decline in attendance through the years as the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center and related facilities have grown around it, enveloping both buildings. Finding the museum can be a challenge even for city residents.

The James River location for the new attraction, a little more than 1 mile from Museum of the Confederacy, offers a more expansive and accessible site. It’s also home to the National Park Service’s Richmond Visitor Center, already is a popular destination for Civil War buffs. Concerts and other events also draw city-dwellers and tourists to the grassy grounds along the river.

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