A vast anthology of household and decorative items, industrial artifacts, fine art and works on paper, totaling over 900,000 objects. This collection documents the daily life of Richmond, and includes such diverse groups as dolls, toys, games, weapons, sporting goods, musical instruments, furniture, glassware and ceramics, kitchen and cooking wares, personal items for men and women, Native American artifacts, and objects associated with Richmond’s industries. Rare and common objects are found in every category.
Furniture, glass, silver and ceramics make up this collection of over 25,000 objects. The History Center houses an extensive collection of Richmond-made furniture, as well as examples of work by sophisticated craftsmen such as Lannuier, Knoll and Werkstatte designers. A pair of 19th century card tables by the French cabinet maker Charles Honore Lannuier are part of the original furnishings of the 1812 Wickham House.
This noteworthy collection includes paintings, drawings and sculpture. The collection houses works from the 18th to the 20th centuries, and includes work of and by Virginians. The portrait collection contains works by artists such as Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, Robert Sully, William James Hubard, William L. Sheppard, John Wesley Jarvis, Conrad Wise Chapman, John Gadsby Chapman and G.P.A. Healy.
Watercolors range from Richmond’s early life with the work of Raphaelle Peale and Laurence Sully to the 20th century scenes of Margaret Dashiell. The sculpture studio of Edward V. Valentine, a 19th century Richmond sculptor and the brother of the History Center's founder, is located on the museum grounds. Valentine's work includes many well-known pieces, such as the Recumbent Lee at Washington and Lee University and Thomas Jefferson, located in the lobby of the Jefferson Hotel.
The industrial collection of the Valentine includes objects ranging from a mortar and pestle to objects from Richmond’s leading corporations. Notable within the collection are artifacts from Richmond’s tobacco industry including cutting machines, cigarette-rolling machinery, and tobacco-bagging equipment. The neon sign collection highlights the history of Richmond’s businesses featuring local and national trademarks.