Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia


The Importance of Being Cute: Pet Photography in Virginia 1840-2013 icon

The Importance of Being Cute: Pet Photography in Virginia 1840-2013
(June 10, 2013—March 1, 2014)

Whether they bark, meow, chirp, squeak, or hiss, pets are an important part of their owner's lives and increasingly recognized as full-fledged family members. "The Importance of Being Cute: Pet Photography in Virginia" is an exhibition of more than one hundred historic and contemporary photographs exploring the complex and multi-faceted relationships that have existed between Virginians and their animals since the advent of photography.

One of the remarkable aspects of the rapid spread of photographic portraiture is how soon and how often people brought animals, particularly dogs, into studios to have likenesses made. These early photographs not only document the practice of pet keeping but suggest a great deal about the range of relationships between people and their pets. By the 1890s, when photography was simplified enough to become an amateur pastime, owners began to document pets in both ordinary activities and more humorous situations. It was a short leap from those amusing early pet snapshots to I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER and other popular online pet photo sharing sites.

Think your pet is cute? Of course you do! Add your pet's photo to our exhibit by emailing it to For additional online content, please visit our Pinterest page (

You Have No Right: Law & Justice in Virginia icon

You Have No Right: Law & Justice in Virginia
(September 24, 2012—May 18, 2013)

The actions of Virginians provide particularly good examples to learn about the role of the law and the courts in defining and protecting the rights and liberties of American citizenship. The state's legal culture and how Virginians interpret the concepts of law and justice are the results of the actions of private citizens and of men and women who hold public office or serve the public as officers of the courts. Legislators make the laws, and judges interpret and apply the laws, but voters, jurors, and citizens are in many ways influential participants in shaping the laws, the legal process, and how courts and other legal institutions function.

Lost & Found icon

Lost & Found
(February 27, 2012—August 25, 2012)

Fading black-and-white photographs and yellowing handwritten letters in a safe deposit box. The records of a historic African American business found in a dumpster. The conscious decision to destroy private papers. The destruction of archives by chance and nature. All illustrate what we collect and value in our cultural landscape.

Lost and Found, a new exhibition opening at the Library of Virginia on February 27, examines the constantly changing fabric of our world. Things disappear, sometimes almost without notice-signs, buildings, even towns-and others go into attics, basements, and landfills. Some are saved and carefully stored and preserved; others intentionally destroyed, sometimes dramatically.

Most of us collect something-baseball cards or autographs, books or family mementos. Many of us create scrapbooks that reflect our personal interests. Lost and Found showcases the personal and the professional, the ephemeral and the profound, examples of personal collections, scrapbooks, and time capsules. It tells large stories and small ones. The exhibition highlights items in the Library's vast collections that offer intriguing glimpses into our past and show the promise of new endeavors such as the Civil War 150 Legacy Project in garnering greater insight into our shared history.

Lost and Found runs through August 25, 2012, and is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, excluding state holidays.

American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print icon

American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print
(December 5, 2011—February 4, 2012)

Exhibition: December 5, 2011 — February 4, 2012 "Advertising without posters is like fishing without worms."
— The Hatch Brothers This sentiment was certainly true in 1879 when brothers Herbert H. and Charles R. Hatch opened Hatch Show Print, a printing shop in Nashville, Tennessee. Their handcrafted posters screamed slogans such as "More Power, More Pep," "So Many Girls You Can't Count Them All," and "Always Clean, Always Good." Almost 130 years later, Hatch posters hold their own, offering a stirring and refreshingly tactile contrast to the digital advertising world. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum celebrates this time-honored graphic art tradition. American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print opened at the Experience Music Project in Seattle on Oct. 11, 2008, and has traveled to additional museums over the last few years, including the Austin Museum of Art (Texas), Tulane University's Newcomb Art Gallery in New Orleans, and the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens.

Union or Secession icon

Union or Secession
(December 6, 2010—October 29, 2011)

What were Virginians thinking and discussing as the first Southern states withdrew from the United States following the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860? Why was Virginia’s decision critical to America’s fate in 1861 and key to the ultimate course and outcome of the sectional crisis?
Virginia was central to American identity for its role in the founding of the United States and its political principles. Both the Confederacy and the Union wanted to claim Virginia’s historical legacy. Union or Secession explores what Virginians thought and debated as the crisis unfolded. Explore the choices Virginians faced as they decided their fate and the lasting consequences of their decisions for Virginia and the nation.

The Land We Live In, The Land We Left icon

The Land We Live In, The Land We Left
(January 11, 2010—October 30, 2010)

The Land We Live In, The Land We Left explores over 400 years of immigration to Virginia—the people drawn here and brought here—sometimes against their will—and the traditions and customs of their homelands that came with them, helping to shape both their communities and the commonwealth.

Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster? icon

Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster?
(July 20, 2009—December 5, 2009)

Who is Edgar Allan Poe? An instantly recognizable American author and historical figure, his name calls to mind spine-chilling stories and melancholy poetry. He evokes the image of the tragic romantic poet, misunderstood and rejected by society. We are so familiar with his life and work that we already know him. Or do we?

From Williamsburg to Wills's Creek: The Fry-Jefferson Map icon

From Williamsburg to Wills's Creek: The Fry-Jefferson Map
(August 18, 2008—May 30, 2009)

This exhibition focuses on the sources and sequels of the Fry–Jefferson map, created by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson in 1755. The exhibition examines the role of surveyors in colonial Virginia, the importance of the surveying experience for Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson in creating their important map, and the influence of their map on later cartographic representations of Virginia. The published map included Fry and Jefferson's completed border survey for the western bounds of the Northern Neck and the dividing line between Virginia and North Carolina. For the first time the entire Virginia river system was properly delineated, and the northeast-southwest orientation of the Appalachian Mountains was displayed.

Never Built Virginia icon

Never Built Virginia
(January 11, 2008—January 26, 2008)

From Thomas Jefferson's design of the Virginia State Capitol to Northern Virginia's soaring post-modern structures of glass and steel, the commonwealth's architectural triumphs are well-documented. But what of those that never made it beyond the drawing board? Never Built Virginia explored a variety of proposed architectural projects from around the commonwealth that remained unbuilt because the architecture was too radical, because funding collapsed, or because they lost favor with their patrons.

Queen and Commonwealth icon

Queen and Commonwealth
(Online Exhibition)

On October 16, 1957, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Virginia during the commonwealth's 350th anniversary celebration of the founding of Jamestown. Then, as now, the Queen's visit prompted intense interest from the state's people and the media. To mark the 2007 royal visit, the Library of Virginia presented photographs, audio, newspaper accounts, and state records from the 1957 events.