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Richmond-area museums like Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Valentine & more open this week

Many Richmond-area museums are opening this week after being closed for months because of the coronavirus.

The Valentine opens Tuesday, the Virginia Museum of History & Culture opens Wednesday and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts opens Saturday.

“After months of planning for safe, welcoming, and engaging experiences at the Valentine, it’s time to open the doors,” said Bill Martin, director of The Valentine, via email. “In times of change, communities need these important places for reflection, inspiration, and challenge.”

Safety protocols will be in place and are fairly similar at each location: Masks will be required for entry, surfaces will be sanitized regularly and visitors must remain at least 6 feet apart between parties.

Many museums are returning with new exhibits, like the ticketed exhibit “Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities” at the VMFA or “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” an exhibit on 1920s fashion in Richmond, opening later this month at The Valentine.



William J. “Bill” Martin, director of the Valentine.

The Valentine will open.

Safety protocols: Admission to The Valentine is free during summer 2020; however, all visitors are required to register for tickets in advance. Parking is free. As with all businesses in the state, masks will be required and physical distancing of 6 feet is required between parties.

What to see: “Voices from Richmond’s Hidden Epidemic,” which explores oral histories and photographs of Richmonders living with HIV/AIDS, and “Ain’t Misbehavin’: 1920s Richmond,” a new costume and textiles exhibition, opening July 21. The Valentine Garden is currently open, but the café is not.

Where: The Valentine, 1015 E. Clay St., thevalentine.org or (804) 649-0711.


DANIEL SANGJIB MIN/times-dispatch  

Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia in Richmond on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia will open to the public.

Safety protocols: Groups limited to 10 or fewer; face masks required; physical distancing of 6 feet required between parties.

What to see: The Black History Timeline traces the history of African Americans on a 35-foot interactive timeline featuring such notable events as Anthony Johnson’s arrival to Virginia, Nat Turner’s revolt and the election of L. Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first elected African American governor.

Where: 122 W. Leigh St., (804) 780-9093 or www.blackhistory museum.org.


The Virginia Museum of History & Culture reopens to the public on Wednesday.

The Virginia Museum of History & Culture will open to the public.

Safety protocols: Visitors must reserve timed-entry tickets in advance; face masks required; physical distancing of 6 feet required between parties.

What to see: New “All In Together” murals on the front of the museum inspired and led by local artists Hamilton Glass and Matt Lively. Inside the museum, check out the exhibits “Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from Women’s Suffrage to Today” and “A Landscape Saved: The Garden Club of Virginia at 100.”

Where: Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 428 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd. Suggested donation $5 to $10. Virginia History.org or (804) 340-1800.



The Robins Nature Center at Maymont is reopening July 2nd after a $2.3 million renovation. Photo was taken on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

Maymont’s newly renovated Robins Nature Center will open to the public.

What to see: The Nature Center has been closed since November for the $2.3 million project, which includes a 34-foot-tall sculpture that can be climbed, a beaver lodge, baby sturgeon and digital pool touch stations. The Robins Nature Center will initially be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets must be purchased online at Maymont.org/nature-center and are available in 45-minute time slots with limited capacity for entry.

Maymont’s grounds and gardens have remained open during the pandemic.

Where: Robins Nature Center, 2201 Shields Lake Drive, www.maymont.org or (804) 358-7166.



The VMFA reopens Saturday.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will reopen to the public. The museum will have normal operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, plus extended hours until 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. VMFA members will have early access beginning Wednesday.

What to see: The new, ticketed exhibition, “Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities,” will open Saturday. Besides the permanent collections on view, “Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop,” has been extended through Oct. 18.

Safety protocols: Masks will be required, and the museum will hand out disposable masks for anyone who doesn’t have one. Visitors will be limited throughout the museum — including the gift shop and cafe areas — and will enter and exit through different parts of the museum. Physical distancing of 6 feet required between parties.

Dining: Best Cafe will operate grab-and-go items with limited seating. Amuse, the museum’s fine-dining restaurant, will also be open with limited seating, and reservations are recommended.

Where: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., vmfa.museum or (804) 340-1400.

Tuesday, July 14

The Poe Museum will reopen to the public.

What to see: Local artists with Mending Walls RVA have painted the boards covering the windows at the museum to the theme of “We Need to Talk.” The art aims to address the pain and inequities of racism. The artwork will still be up when the museum opens.

Where: Poe Museum, 1914-16 E. Main St., www.poemuseum.org or (804) 648-5523.

Thursday, July 16

Tom Hennessy.  

Sculptures in the M&T Bank Wind Waves and Light exhibit.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will open to the public. General admission will be limited, and visitors will choose arrival times. Visits will be limited to two hours. The garden plans to be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

What to see: The new exhibit “M&T Bank Wind Waves and Light: Art in Motion,” a George Sherwood series of large stainless-steel sculptures that move and change with the wind, will be on view through Oct. 18.

Where: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, www.lewisginter.org or (804) 262-9887.

Already open

Agecroft Hall: The gardens and the house at Agecroft Hall have opened at 4305 Sulgrave Road. www.agecrofthall.org or (804) 353-4241.

American Civil War Museum: Opened in June. New exhibit, “Southern Ambitions,” about the Confederacy’s economic power and aspiration to become global players. Opens Saturday. 480 Tredegar St.

Henricus Historical Park: Open-air living history museum opened in June.

Jamestown: Opened Monday.

Museums like the Science Museum of Virginia and the Children’s Museum of Richmond remain closed and will release information on their reopening plans later.

Judge denies injunction in lawsuit challenging Northam's mask mandate

A Virginia judge has denied an injunction in a challenge to Gov. Ralph Northam’s mask mandate.

Circuit Court Judge Jeanette Irby of the 20th Judicial Circuit, which covers Fauquier, Loudoun and Rappahannock counties, ruled Monday that Northam’s order requiring residents over the age of 10 to wear masks in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 can stand after a legal challenge from a Fauquier County winery and its owner.

“Contrary to the Plaintiffs’ contention, the Governor’s powers do not preclude him from issuing orders requiring face coverings, and in fact, (a section of Virginia code) explicitly anticipates such an event,” Irby’s ruling reads.

Northam issued the statewide mask order May 26, with a violation of the order carrying with it a possible Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Philip Carter Strother, a Henrico County resident, sued the state over the order this month along with Philip Carter Winery, the Fauquier winery he owns. The lawsuit argues that the governor does not have the power to issue such a mandate and that no governor in Virginia’s history “has ever claimed the unilateral authority to impose a dress code on the citizenry, under any circumstances.”

They sought a temporary injunction allowing them to opt out of the mandate.

Northam and other state leaders argue that wearing masks helps slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 1,700 people in the state.

“Wearing a mask is such an easy, effective way to help control the spread of COVID and to show your fellow Virginians that you care about the health and well-being of your friends, neighbors, and community,” Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement. “As cases continue to spike around the country, we know that our progress in controlling COVID in Virginia is real, but requires a sustained commitment to things like covering our faces and maintaining social distancing whenever possible.”

Herring added: “I’m proud we were able to defend this commonsense measure to help stop COVID, and I’m really proud of all the great work my team has done to keep Virginians safe during this uncertain time.”

Despite the virus’ toll on the state, Virginia is set to enter its third reopening phase Wednesday. Restaurants can operate at full capacity, with social distancing in place, and social gatherings can have up to 250 people, among other guidelines.

Masks will still be required in Phase Three.

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