January 4, 2015

                The Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History Board of Directors recently approved a three year strategic plan creating a new mission and vision that will drive new initiatives and partnerships.  A retreat held in April for both existing and incoming Directors reviewed strategic themes garnered from over 220 community members, staff, and board interviews.  Out of these discussions came a new theme for the museum, recognizing the museum’s forty year history and the legacy of the Sutherlin Mansion, the keystone of the museum campus.


“The Last Capitol of the Confederacy, The Beginning of  a United Nation” will help define the museum’s goal to be more inclusive and improve the scope of its work.  Past Board President, Barry Shield’s letter to the community states, “We believe this plan lays the groundwork for many encouraging and fulfilling years ahead in the Arts, culture, humanities, Danville’s history, education facilities, new partnerships, inclusion and community engagement.”  The strategic theme of inclusion sets the goal for the membership committee to “develop and present ideas to the board which will ensure that the membership and visitors to the Danville Museum continue to reflect our entire community.”


                The Board decided to embrace a vision “to be the Dan River Region’s Leader for integrated awareness of History, Culture, and Community” focusing on a mission “to promote history and art in the Dan River Region.”   Another strategic theme in the Board’s plan is history with goals to better interpret the Sutherlin Mansion and Danville’s role in the Civil War.  In April 2015, the Sesquicentennial anniversary for Danville’s famed role as the Last Capitol in the Civil War will take place.  Related projects are completed, underway and are planned.


                New board committees have been created to support planning efforts, including membership, performing arts, education, and visitor services.  Upcoming programs include Historical Halloween, a Civil War musical by the Little Theatre of Danville, and Holiday House at the Sutherlin’s children’s tour. 


                The “Between the Lines” permanent Civil War exhibit in the museum received over $45,000 in updates over the past several years in preparation for the Sesquicentennial tourism.  In addition, a new self-guided tour of the Sutherlin Mansion will be launched this month supported with funding from the Dan River Year program and the Carrington Trust totaling $20,000.  A Danville Regional Foundation grant project secured an exhibition consultant to design a history of the Confederate flag exhibit, to be installed in early 2015.  A new museum website, also to debut this month, was funded with a grant from J.T. Minnie Maude.  A Morotock Arts and Cultural Fund grant is supporting the upcoming Virginia Museum of Fine Arts traveling exhibition, “A New Mosaic:  African American Art,” with an accompanying lecture "Civil War to Civil Rights: How African American Artists Engage the Past."

                 The Board’s strategic plan moves the museum forward by working on new collections, research, financial support, and facilities.  The 2012 donation of Camilla William’s archives and memorabilia was recognized as an important new collection to be professionally curated and exhibited in the new few years.  The recent success of a revitalized gift shop requires that it receives expansion to provide new income and promote local authors and artists.   Grant opportunities are being pursued for a children’s room for both art and history education.  Recognizing the growing importance of the museum’s auditorium for community performing arts and celebrations, funding for updating the stage, flooring, and kitchen is being sought.

                 Museum membership and admission is open to the public throughout the year.   Registration forms and fees are online at www.danvillemuseum.org and at the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, 975 Main Street, Danville.  For more information about membership, donations, or upcoming events, call the museum at (434) 793-5644.