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A sneak peak of the Virginia Women’s Monument before it debuts next week

Posted at 6:50 PM, Oct 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-10 14:17:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- After more than a decade of planning, research, and design, the Virginia Women's Monument will be unveiled at its permanent location, just east of Virginia's Capitol building, on Monday, October 14.

CBS 6 and other media outlets got a sneak peak of the monument, which is currently surrounded by fencing on the Capitol grounds.

Seven of 12 bronze sculptures depicting women from throughout Virginia's 400 year history who achieved great heights in government relations, suffrage, civil rights, and education are in the final stages of installation.

"I think of girls, I think of my daughter," said Colleen Messick with the Virginia Capitol Foundation. "Knowing women's achievements lets her know what's possible. Really anyone, in order to have inspirations, you need to have aspirations."

Once unveiled, the monument will be the first of its kind on the grounds of any state capitol in the nation, the foundation said, because it showcases "the full range of achievements and contributions made by remarkable women in a variety of fields and endeavors."

The seven life-size statues unveiling Monday include Cockacoeske, Pamunkey chieftain; Anne Burras Laydon, Jamestown colonist; Mary Draper Ingles, frontierswoman; Elizabeth Keckly, seamstress and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln; Laura Copenhaver, entrepreneur in the textile industry; Virginia Randolph, educator; Adèle Clark, suffragist and artist.

More statues will be added as they are funded and completed.

The women were selected after project leaders and the Library of Virginia surveyed residents statewide over the course of several years. Ivan Schwartz, the Brooklyn, NY, based sculptor who lead the artistic design of the project, said the women represent a part of history not traditional taught in-depth or represented in state-sponsored spaces of honor.

"They are people who did unbelievable things against all odds. We celebrate them today, and I think that's a very valuable thing to pass on," Schwartz said.  "Lincoln and Washington and Jefferson and Madison, that club is now open to people who otherwise have been not really apart of it."

Schwartz and the Virginia Capitol Foundation purposely designed the monument's plaza so that the statues would stand or sit near ground level.

"One thing the foundation heard loudly from people across the state was these women need to be on eye level," Messick said. "They didn't want them on a pedestal; this monument was to be interacted with."

Along a glass pane that stretches around the outer edge of one side of the monument, the names of 230 notable women, like Martha Washington, are etched for passersby to read.  Project leaders said they are working on digital or online educational resources to accompany the monument.

The official unveiling ceremony begins Monday at 11 a.m. at the Virginia State Capitol. The event is free and open to the public.

You can learn more about the Virginia Women's Monument here.