Last week our family had the opportunity to spend a few days in Virginia (read more here and here), but prior to our travel I spent quite a bit of time researching all of the places we needed to visit. When it comes to history, Virginia can be a bit overwhelming. There is just SO much. And being the do-it-all type of person, naturally, I wanted to do it all! But my kids are 4 and 8 so I needed to be realistic too. I knew there was only so much “museum-y, non-running, voices low, don’t touch” time they could handle. So I had to be selective. Very selective.
As I sifted through the MANY historical options Virginia has to offer, the one place that rose to the top again and again was The American Civil War Museum. A combination of 3 places in 1: The Museum of The Confederacy, Historic Tredegar, and The White House of the Confederacy.
The Museum has an impressive 3-story collection of flags, war memorabilia, photographs and models.
The kids really enjoyed viewing all of the collections at the museum. We were able to have a representative from the museum tell us some really incredible stories and engage the kids with extra tidbits of information.
We also enjoyed touring the White House of the Confederacy and hearing stories about Jefferson Davis. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and did a wonderful job painting a picture of everyday life for the Davis family. We particularly liked seeing all of the architecture and period furniture.
Overall, our time at the museum was very educational, enjoyable, and memorable. Experiencing the history made it come alive to the kids in a way that no text book could possibly ever do for them.
After about 3 hours at The American Civil War Museum our tour group was asked if we had any further questions. Always eager to soak up information, our 8-year old daughter raised her hand quickly and asked if the Davis family had a pet (FYI- they did- a dog named Tippy.) Mary Grace could have easily stayed another 3 hours and asked a million more questions!
However, not to be out done by his big sister, our 4-year old immediately raised his hand and stated “We’re going to have pizza now.” The tour guide took his cue and saw that as the perfect moment to end the tour.
I repeat this story as a way to say- The American Civil War Museum is an incredible place to take children of all ages. Not everything in the museum will appeal to kids, but knowing that up front will help. Many of the displays have signs that need to be read in order to fully understand the importance. Likewise, smaller children may be ready to go more quickly than older ones (or adults!)
As a suggestion for families visiting- we gave both of our children small notepads and pencils to “take notes” throughout the museum. Although our 4-year old does not write, he was able to draw pictures of various things he saw.
Our family very much enjoyed being hosted by The Museum and I absolutely recommend including it in your visit to Richmond, Virginia.
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