A new addition to Virginia Museum of History & Culture’s “The Story of Virginia” exhibit includes pieces highlighting the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement in Virginia.
The Virginia Museum of History and Culture has updated their signature exhibit titled “The Story of Virginia” to include pieces from the LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement. The enhancements consist of documents and memorabilia from VHMC’s growing LGBTQ historical archive.
The updates to the exhibit, which were announced on September 24, include a painting from Houston-based celebrity artist Jumper Maybach, depicting the Virginia Capitol. Maybach is a clown character and abstract painter created by abstract painter Ben Workman, who is openly gay. He has created two pieces for Virginia’s LGBTQ community. One is currently in the VHMC exhibit, while the other is on display in Mayor Levar Stoney’s office.
“It was a great honor to end up in the museum in Virginia,” Maybach said. “I’m very proud to have a piece in there to show what my life mission has become — to end hate and intolerance and bullying in the world.”
If you’re not familiar with Maybach’s story, it’s really quite amazing. In 2011, he was bullied incessantly during visiting to the Department of Veterans Affairs. That’s when he had what he called a “spiritual awakening.” It was then that he picked up a paintbrush — and he never looked back.
Maybach’s art immediately garnered both national and international attention. In 2013, he hosted his first gallery show. From there, he accepted an invitation to display his art in Dubai as a VIP guest. Shortly after, he curated a 39-piece gallery in Venice, Italy to accompany the screening of his documentary, The Jumper Maybach Story.
No matter where his art has taken him, Maybach’s mission has remained the same — end bullying and intolerance worldwide.
“I think God is leading me down that path,” Maybach said. “So I just keep going down the path. I paint, I tell my story, and when a door opens, I don’t question it as I go through it. And it keeps leading me to different areas where I just keep growing, which is amazing… that’s what the art is all about — change, and waking people up.”
Adam Scher, VHMC’s vice president for collections, knows how hand-in-hand the struggles of the LGBTQ community are to the history of Virginia. The community began growing in the 1960s, and continues to advocate and fight for legal protections and civil rights.
“The experiences of Virginia’s LGBTQ+ community are woven into the tapestry of our state’s history and culture and it’s important that they be documented, preserved, and shared as part of telling an inclusive story of Virginia,” Scher said.
For Scher, the exhibition presents an incredible opportunity to educate the public about the decades of persecution the LGBTQ community has faced, and to highlight the incredible successes of some of the figures at the forefront of the movement.
“Virginia’s history is diverse and there are many stories that have long been unacknowledged,” Scher said. “We seek to open those doors and invite visitors to share and explore a more inclusive story of Virginia, one which reflects the experiences of all Virginians.“
Part of sharing these stories involves taking in personal accounts and artifacts from Virginians themselves. The museum is collecting images, oral accounts, documents and artifacts to add to their collection. Learn more about donating to the collection at VMHC’s website.
The VMHC’s new display will also feature documents and artifacts from the VMHC collections, including a program from the fifth annual Richmond Lesbian and Gay Pride Day, held in 1989, which was the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York.
“As the state’s history museum, we are firmly dedicated to representing all who are a part of the Virginia experience,” said VMHC President Jamie Bosket, “As such, we are deeply committed to better reflecting the diversity of the state, including preserving and sharing the stories of LGBTQ+ communities in the Commonwealth.”
Top Photo courtesy Virginia Museum of History and Culture