Yesterday I made mention of the disappointing - and at first inexplicable - decision made to break up the collection and disperse its tens of thousands of individual pieces to several existing sites, rather than relocate The Museum of the Confederacy somewhere more viable.
But it didn't take long for me to realize why this is being done.
Those responsible for the museum are killing it off. Because it harbors that evil word - confederacy.
That of course is bullshit. And Rawls knows it.
Confederate capital may lose artifacts
By Larry O'Dell, The Washington Times
Richmond (AP) — The Museum of the Confederacy is considering a plan to send its artifacts to other facilities as a result of poor attendance.
Museum officials said yesterday that the bulk of the world's largest collection of Civil War artifacts would go to three facilities outside the city, the former Confederate capital.
[Museum President and Chief Executive Officer S. Waite Rawls III] said the plan would establish a museum "system" that would better accomplish the mission of educating the public about the war through exhibits and research. (link)
What this guy probably comprehends but is willing to ignore - to sacrifice - is the fact that the Museum of the Confederacy is an historical artifact in itself.
From the museum's soon-to-be-extinguished-forever website:
The Museum traces its roots to one of the many Confederate ladies memorial associations formed immediately after the war. The Ladies Hollywood Memorial Association (LHMA) was founded at Richmond’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on May 3, 1866. The duties of the group in included caring for and honoring the graves in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery. The women were involved in other projects, which honored the Confederate dead such as raising money to build one of the south’s first Confederate monuments. The Museum was born when the Society elected one of Richmond’s wealthiest and most active women, Isobel (Belle) Stewart Bryan, as its president in 1890.
Along with the customary officers, the Museum had a separate hierarchy of regents and vice-regents who oversaw the building and maintenance of the Museum collections. Although the Museum was a local institution, its founders conceived of it as belonging to the whole South. The Museum was separated into rooms dedicated to the collections amassed by each of the eleven undisputed Confederate states, and by Missouri and Kentucky ... (link)
I wonder if there were any historians involved in this decision.
The most elaborate, complex, the most detailed, the most meaningful collection of southern Civil War memorabilia in the world is being broken up for one reason. One word.
There has been an ongoing movement in this country, lasting for decades, to eliminate all vestiges of the Confederate Battle Flag. To relegate it to the closet. The trash heap of history. Perhaps rightly so.
But to destroy history in an attempt to retell it, to reshape it, to try to avoid telling it at all, is disgraceful. And shocking.
As an historian, I am appalled that those responsible for the maintenance of this priceless collection - The Museum of the Confederacy - have decided - cynically, cowardly, politically - to kill it.
All those who were involved in this decision - historians?! - should hang their heads in shame.