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This special exhibit will celebrate the Library of Virginia's bicentennial

Posted at 8:06 PM, Jan 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-20 20:06:53-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Library of Virginia is celebrating its bicentennial with a major exhibition opening next Tuesday.

"We're celebrating our 200th anniversary and we're excited. A big milestone for the Library of Virginia. The state library celebrates its bicentennial anniversary with 200 Years, 200 Stories, an exhibition," Gregg Kimball, the director of public services and outreach for the library, said. "One of the things that we've done over the years is find all these incredible stories in the collections, so we've really focused this on the stories. It's people from every walk of life, every race, every religion."

Some stories are based on the new Virginians, those who have migrated to Virginia in the last 30 years.

"So I guess the important thing for me is, it's not just people in the 17th century but it's, what is Virginia today and who are the people that now have come to the state and are becoming part of our story?" Kimball said.

The library was founded by the General Assembly on January 24, 1823. Its mission was to care for, organize and manage the state's growing collections of official records and books.

"So originally, it was something called the Colonial Council Library and this was a collection that statesmen and governors and other people used basically to do their thing to run the Commonwealth," Kimball said.

Those first records were first housed in the Capitol building. After several different locations, the library moved in 1997 to 800 East Broad Street.

"In the exhibit, you'll see lighthearted artifacts like the wand and dress from the Virginia Lottery's Lady Luck," Kimball said.

Others showcase a more serious history.

"We have the lock from the jail where Nat Turner was held. It's a very iconic piece, that's in our collection," Kimball said.

There are also events and programs with the anniversary exhibit, like women in the General Assembly and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission, featuring the biographies of African American men who served in the General Assembly after the Civil War.

"Most people do not know that, it's really remarkable, that 92 men served and so we are going to be honoring them," Kimball said.

The exhibit opens on January 24 and will run through October 28. Kimball is hopeful that Richmonders will get as excited as he is about this bicentennial anniversary exhibition.

"I hope they will get the richness of our society and culture and also be inspired that they can also make a difference in the future for the Commonwealth," Kimball said.

For more information, visit the library's website.