The Department of Art History is pleased to announce that Prof. Clare van Loenen will be moderating a panel titled “Deconstructing Historic House Narratives” at the 2022 American Alliance of Museums Conference in Boston on May 20. The panel will feature museum professionals from across Richmond, including a VCU Art History PhD student.
Deconstructing Historic House Narratives, Friday May 20, 2022 at 2pm in Room 258 A
American Alliance of Museums, 2022 Annual Meeting and Museum Expo, May 19-22, 2022
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, 415 Summer St, Boston, MA 02210
Photographed, from left to right:
Ana Edwards, Education Programs Manager, American Civil War Museum (Confederate Presidents’ House)
Clare van Loenen, Adjunct Assistant Professor, VCUarts (Art History)
Ajena Cason Rogers, Supervisory Park Ranger, Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, National Park Service
Kate Sunderlin, Research Consultant, Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio, and Doctoral Candidate, VCUarts (Art History)
Sylvio Lynch III, Project Curator, African American Voices Initiative, Maymont Foundation (not pictured)
Photo credit: Paris Boynes, May 2022
As educators, curators, and visitors, what resources do we need to tell the fuller story and experience of the historic house? What narratives need to be revisited, expanded, or deconstructed, and who is responsible for this work?
Deconstructing historic house narratives has a very specific context in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy, where racial justice protests in 2020 edited and removed “Lost Cause” monuments, and escalated interpretive redress in white cultural spaces. In this presentation, representatives from the Confederate Presidents’ House, Maymont Mansion, Maggie L Walker National Historic Site, and Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio discuss the necessary work of telling the story of those who lived and labored in them. Panelists will address both the racialized myths embedded in historic houses and the “Whitelash” experienced by staff as they deliver more inclusive material.
Deconstructing the historic house narrative is an urgent impulse complicated by each site’s distinct organizational models and neighborhood contexts. What is happening and what still needs to happen is often rooted in collaborative and consuming museum work – archive research, rethinking texts, re-presenting collections, and constructing new monuments. How can we best deliver these quietly radical acts of de- and reconstruction without losing ourselves to the limitations, resistances, and traumas of this work? The collective weight of these four historic house museums offers perspectives seldom voiced together and combined-learning through the challenges and joys they share.