There will be no Confederate flag on display outside the new Museum of the Confederacy at Appomattox, Va. when it opens Saturday.
Museum president and CEO Waite Rawls admits he has taken heat for the decision. But he is adamant that the museum’s exterior “reunification promenade” is an exhibit and it is meant to show what its name implies, with row of flags from each of the Confederate states that ends with a much larger U.S. flag as a centerpiece.
At the 10 a.m. ceremony, open to the public, a flag will be raised for each state in the order it seceded. At that point, Rawls said he will say to the audience, “Then, we became one nation. Please stand for the Stars Spangled Banner.”
That inclusive gesture is also reflected inside the 12,000-square-foot museum with the first of 11 galleries devoted to the question of slavery and another including President Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Richmond after the city fell.
There are also a variety of interactive displays including one of a wall of 64 portraits--including about 25 African Americans—where the visitor touches a face that is then enlarged and a caption tells what is known about that person in pre-and post-war times.
The museum owns the country’s largest collection of artifacts from the Confederacy, items that were donated often by families of soldiers and officers when the Confederate White House opened as a museum in 1896.
Those donations continued when a separate museum opened in 1976. Only a small percentage of the holdings could be displayed at any one time.
The new museum allows space for display of more of that collection including such “wow” displays as the uniform jacket and sword that Gen. Robert E. Lee wore at the surrender and the pen he used to sign the papers. There are also 22 original Confederate flags, national and battle, on display.
The public grand opening includes a re-enactment of the surrender and keynote address by Confederacy expert and author James “Bud” Robertson as well as staged events and demonstrations between noon and 4 p.m.
The seven-day-a-week museum is open for free on Saturday but after that, admission will be $10 for adults, $6 for children 7 to 13 and no charge for those under six.