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Confederate museums merge, create new Richmond facility

The Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond will be part of a new museum entity.
The Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond will be part of a new museum entity.Mike Virgintino

The Museum of the Confederacy and the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, two privately owned nonprofit Civil War museums located in Richmond, Virginia, have announced a merger that will create a new experience in the study of the war in the capitol city of the Confederacy.

A new museum will combine the Tredegar site at the Tredegar Iron Works with the Museum of the Confederacy’s collection of artifacts. The new facility, estimated to cost $30 million, will be built on the Tredegar property to display the combined collections. About $20 million has been committed to the project by private investors, according to the Museum of the Confederacy.

The Tredegar Iron Works was founded during 1836 to manufacture cannon. By 1847, it had expanded to build locomotives, railroad supplies, cables, ships and naval hardware, iron machinery and brass. During the war, it became a major supplier of cannon for the Confederacy. It also manufactured plates for the ironclad CSS Virginia.The iron works was one of the few buildings to survive the burning of Richmond during the Confederate evacuation of April 1865.

The Museum of the Confederacy collection will continue to be owned by the Confederate Memorial Literary Society, which was created during 1890. The new museum will include three sites: the current American Civil War Center property along the James River, the White House of the Confederacy in downtown Richmond and The Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox that opened during 2012.

White House Losing Visitors

The future of the current museum that is adjacent to the White House of the Confederacy has not been determined by the new group. The museum will remain open for at least two more years.

The facility, which maintains and displays a fascinating collection of Confederate history, continues to suffer from significant loss in visitation due to increasing isolation with the continuous expansion of the surrounding Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. Towering hospital buildings have dwarfed the historic White House of the Confederacy and parking issues have deterred visitors.

A name has not been selected for the new museum entity, but the final designation will include two names. One name will serve as an “umbrella” identification for the three sites while the other will be reserved for the new museum facility.