The History of the Confederate Flag Exhibit Installed. Preparations for the Sesquicentennial.
The Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History has installed a new exhibit about the history of the Confederate flags. Entitled “Divided Lines: The National Flags of the Confederacy,” the panels enhance the museum’s permanent exhibit, “Between the Lines: Danville 1861-1865, Drifting Towards Disaster.” The five colorful panels not only detail fascinating facts about the creation of the Confederate national flags, but also have vignettes of local interest and about flag design. The exhibit was made possible with a grant by the Danville Regional Foundation.
Vexillology, the study of flags, looks at the symbolism and utilitarianism parts of the flags convey. “To this day, the Confederate flag carries different meanings to different audiences,” explains Cara Burton, Executive Director of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. “The purpose of this exhibit is to educate everyone about the history of these flags and why they are what they are.” The exhibit is located on the second floor next to the Jefferson Davis bedroom and compliments an original Cabell-Graves Camp battle flag on loan from the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“Danville has a rich history that the Confederate flags can help us tell,” Cara Burton says. “We are very excited about the upcoming 150th anniversary of the historic Civil War events that took place in Danville. This exhibit and planned programs will help us broaden the scope of Danville and Pittsylvania County’s historical narrative.” The Danville Museum has been working with the City of Danville and other organizations to plan for visitors touring Civil War Trail sites during the Sesquicentennial.
Danville, Virginia served as the last capital of the Confederate government from April 4 to 10, 1865 after Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet left Richmond. As Major Sutherlin later wrote, “Early on the day of the 3rd, a large number of people in Danville and the surrounding country commenced assembling at the Richmond and Danville depot, to witness the arrival of the President, his Cabinet, in fact the Government.” The Danville Museum campus includes the historic home of Major William T. Sutherlin, who served as Quartermaster during the Civil War. Jefferson Davis lived in Sutherlin’s home that week until General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. He issued his last proclamation from this house before he fled to Greensboro. In addition to these landmark events, Danville Museum activities will highlight Danville’s Civil War prisons, hospitals, cemeteries, the railroad, and civilian life.
The Danville Museum plans the following special events:
- Civil War Redux: Pinhole Photographs by Willie Anne Wright, a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts traveling exhibition, will be installed March 20 to May 17, 2015 in one of the Museum’s galleries. This poignant and sometimes humorous collection of modern photography gives the appearance of real-time Civil War scenes with re-enactors.
- The great-great grandson of President Jefferson Davis, Bertram Hayes-Davis, will be speaking on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at Averett University’s Pritchett Auditorium on Mountain View Avenue, Danville, Virginia. His presentation, “The Life of Jefferson Davis from a Descendant’s Viewpoint,” will be free and open to the public.
- “Dinner with Mr. Hayes-Davis,” will be a museum fundraising event on Saturday, April 4, 2015 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. For more information, call the museum at (434) 793-5644. Tables are available for sponsorship.
- “History on the Lawn” is an annual re-enactor camp-out on the grounds of the Danville Museum. On April 18, 2015, camp life and demonstrations will bring Civil War history to life in Danville. This year, the procession of President Jefferson Davis to the Sutherlin Mansion will be recreated. This is free and open to the public. Re-enactors interested in participating should contact the Museum at (434) 793-5644.
- An original play, Civil War Letters, is being developed by Dr. Fred Motley dramatizing the life of Civil War women to be performed in May 14 to 16, 2015. The vignettes are based on actual letters, bringing the struggles of these war-torn women to the stage. Groups interested in reserving performances should contact the museum at (434) 793-5644.
- As the end of the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial passes, a new exhibit highlighting the 13th, 14th, and 15th Constitutional amendments’ ratification from 1865 to 1870 will be installed in May 22, 2015. This exhibit, “Mending of a Nation: Freedom and Civil Rights in Post Civil War Danville,” will focus on the effect these amendments had on Danville and the effect events in Danville had on Virginia, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement. It will include information about the Danville Riot of 1883.
- Trolley tours of Danville Civil War sites will be available on Saturday, April 4 and Saturday, April 18, 2015. The guided tours will last approximately one and one-half hours, starting at the Danville Museum. Tickets will be available by contacting the museum. Group reservations can be made by calling the Museum at (434) 793-5644.
- Cemetery tours of the National Civil War Cemetery and Green Hills Cemetery will take place at various times April 4 through April 18. Tours for the general public and youth classroom tours will be available. Group reservations can be made by calling the Museum at (434) 793-5644. Specific dates and times of general public tours will be announced closer to the event. Tickets will be available by contacting the museum.
The history of the Civil War in Danville is described in several books available from the museum’s gift shop and can be ordered online at www.danvillemuseum.org. Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Visitors should call (434) 793-5644 for admission rates and group tour reservations.