RICHMOND, Va. -- When the Robert E. Lee statue comes down from Monument Avenue, workers and historians will also remove a 134-year-old copper time capsule thought to be inside the pedestal on which the 12-ton statue sits.
State officials plan to remove the capsule, originally placed in 1887, according to records, and replace it with a modern one, packed with artifacts that capture the current context of Virginia history.
Paul DiPasquale, who designed the Arthur Ashe monument in Richmond, helped design and construct the box, which was loaded and sealed at DiPasquale’s home Tuesday.
Historians, educators, artists and officials chose 39 submissions for inclusion in the capsule out of 150 submissions.
“The artifacts are a snapshot of that moment in time, capturing both the protests of last year and the pandemic,” the Governor’s Office wrote in a statement. “They include a vaccination card, a photo of a Black ballerina in front of the statue, a Black Lives Matter sticker, a face mask, and a poem written in Unified English Braille.”
During the process of loading and sealing the modern capsule, project leaders said the artifacts chosen to reflect the diversity of modern Virginia.
“What best reflects the seismic events of the past year and a half? From the pandemic to the amazing work on social justice, we all lived through,” said Pam Northam, First Lady of Virginia.
“The items that are coming out of the time capsule now represented a Virginia way back when, but only a narrow view of what Virginia stood for and epitomized. But today, on this table, represents such a diverse picture of what Virginia is and who we want to be,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, Virginia’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.
“This capsule gives future Virginian's artifacts of the tectonic transition that has happened to us. The pedestal marks the past and has a new message to the future,” Dipasquale said.
Records from the Library of Virginia suggest that 37 Richmond residents, organizations, and businesses contributed about 60 objects to the original 1887 capsule, many of which are believed to be related to the Confederacy, the Governor’s Office said. Its contents will be perceived by the Department of Historic Resources.