The Museum of the Confederacy — technically the Confederate Memorial Literary Society — announced this week that ground will be broken Sept. 23 for its Appomattox site, one of three new locations planned for the 114-year-old repository of Lost Cause artifacts. The museum believes the Appomattox branch, due to open in 2012, is the nation’s largest such building project scheduled during the upcoming sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of the 1861-65 conflict. Appomattox is about 175 miles southwest of Washington, and 90 miles west of Richmond.
The Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox’s groundbreaking will be the latest step in the museum’s attempt to bring its striking collection to a broader geographic and demographic audience, and thrive. For more than a century, the museum has been housed in downtown Richmond, the heart and capital of the southern Confederacy.
Four years ago, struggling with falling attendance, financial trouble and logistical constraints, the museum decided to build three new sites and spread its vast collection beyond the confines of its 1976 headquarters in Richmond. Museum attendance is around 45,000 a year, down from a peak of 91,000 in 1991, the year it had an exhibit on slavery, said spokesman Sam Craghead.