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The Past Comes Alive in Fredericksburg




Catherine W. Jones McKann Center Opens Second Location Showcasing Civil-War era exhibits –


(Fredericksburg, Va., December 9, 2008) –

“What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.” – General Robert E. Lee

History lives on in Fredericksburg, Virginia through the stories of its people.

Fredericksburg, Virginia, home to some of the most devastating battles in Civil War history, is announcing the opening of the Catherine W. Jones McKann Center at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center. A simple wooden door, marred by the bullet of a Union soldier. Diaries and letters written by battled-scarred soldiers for their frightened families. A collection of Civil War guns and weapons on display for the first time in more than a decade. The new Catherine W. Jones McKann Center joins the existing Town Hall in housing, exhibiting and interpreting the collections of the Fredericksburg Area Museum. The center opened Saturday, December 6, which also marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Museum’s original Town Hall/Market House site. Grand Opening events included free programming in the new facility and free activities in the facility’s Learning Center.

The opening of the museum also precedes the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, which occurred December 11-15, 1862 and is widely known as one of the most devastating battles in Civil War history. New museum exhibits draw heavily on this famed event, showcasing artifacts and stories from battle.

A series of exciting new exhibits are now on display. Fredericksburg at War explores and represents the personal stories of Fredericksburg residents shattered by war. The exhibit specifically focuses on the tragedy and aftermath of the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg.

The Johnson Gun Collection, a collection of Civil War era guns and armaments, also is on display. Not So Current Currency, housed in the original bank vault, explores a rare collection of historic money, both paper and coin. Portal, Passage, Power: An American River Town displays artifacts associated with the history of the Rappahannock RiverRailways and Roadways discusses transportation: the canal system, introduction of the railroad and the first highway system. The galleries above the bank’s main lobby house feature objects that depict the area’s 20th century history.

The Fredericksburg Area Museum hired the services of exhibit firm Quatrefoil to create new exhibits that combine the Museum’s collections of regional historic objects and artifacts in a creative and exciting new format.  The new exhibits detail historical events, as well as heavily draw on the personal effects that the Civil War had on area residents.

The McKann Center is housed in the historic 1927 Planters Bank building, which was acquired by the museum in 2004, in response to the museum’s growing need for space. Prior to the opening of the McKann Center, the Fredericksburg Area Museum only displayed 15 percent of its collections. GWWO, Inc; a Baltimore-based architecture firm managed the renovation and transformation of the former bank building into a modern museum facility that maintains the exquisite and intricate architectural features of the original structure.

            A Learning Center devoted to student programming, a new state-of-the-art collections storage area, and a new Gift Shop are also part of the new center. 

The mission of the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center is to collect, interpret and present the history and the culture of the Fredericksburg region. The Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center is centrally located in downtown Fredericksburg at 1001 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg, VA. For additional information, please visit the museum’s Web site at [Back to Press Releases Main]