"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
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Featured Promotion

Discover Charles Peale Polk's painting of George Washington.

George Washington

Other Exhibitions and Displays

Carole and Marcus Weinstein Learning Center Displays

Tippecanoe and Obama Too — through February 26, 2017

Although the challenges we face today seem daunting, history teaches us that taxes, banking, immigration, civil rights, corporate privilege, the size of the government, political corruption, and national security have been on the minds of Virginians in nearly every presidential election for the past 227 years. Tippecanoe and Obama Too features 23 song sheets, posters, flyers, buttons, and an array of other items used to promote candidates in 14 presidential elections from as early as 1840 to the contest in 2012.

Stone Bits to Computer Chips

What is technology? At the root of the word is the Greek term, techne, meaning “art, skill, trade, craft,” but a more contemporary definition was provided by sociologist Read Bain who wrote in 1937 that, “Technology includes all tools, machines, utensils, weapons, instruments, housing, clothing, communicating and transporting devices and the skills by which we produce and use them.” Although today the word technology most often implies the use of computers, Bain’s definition reminds us that technological innovation has been occurring since the dawn of humanity. When prehistoric people learned how to control fire they created a technology that allowed them to stay warm, see in the dark, and cook food, making it easier to digest.

During thousands of years since the advent of stone tools, successive waves of technology have ushered in agricultural, industrial, and digital revolutions that drastically altered the way people live and work. The items displayed here are a small sample of the things that made those changes possible. Some were profound in their impact while others were mere novelties, but no matter how dated they look to us today, they were once considered the cutting edge.

Pamunkey Pottery

Virginia natives began making pottery out of local clays more than 3,000 years ago. These vessels were produced and used by households for cooking and storage.  Many different sizes of bowls and wide-mouthed jars, usually with rounded bases, were made. Their outside surfaces were often textured by cord, fabric, or net impressions, or had stamped or incised designs. Sometimes crushed shell, sand, or crushed rock was mixed with clay to improve draying and firing. 


Organized by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, this exhibition focuses on the Algonquin Indian settlement that was the center of power for the Powhatan paramount chiefdom when the English established James Fort in 1607 and discusses archaeological discoveries from the last decade.

Related Resources:

The War Horse

On September 17, 1997, the Virginia Historical Society unveiled The War Horse, a memorial to the horses and mules killed during the Civil War, designed by Tessa Pullan of Rutland, England, and given to the historical society by Paul Mellon of Upperville, VA.  Mounted on a six-foot base, the life-size bronze sculpture is on display at the Boulevard entrance to the VHS.


Virginia Voices

Virginia Voices is the first state-specific, crowdsourced film of its kind. For more than a year the Virginia Historical Society collected stories from people in more than fifty locations across the commonwealth. The resulting film is a snapshot of Virginia as told by the people who live and work here.

Virginia Voices (22 minutes) is shown daily at the Virginia Historical Society in the Robins Family Forum on the hour beginning at 10:00 a.m. with the last screening at 4:00 p.m. The film was a fully funded project of the VHS’s wider Story of Virginia Campaign, a $38 million effort to expand, enhance, and renew the society’s presence both in Virginia and across the nation.

Virginia Voices was produced by Orange Frame using archived footage in the collection of the Virginia Historical Society and based on an earlier film by BPI that premiered at the Virginia Historical Society in the spring of 2015.