Museum merger stopped for now

Published 11:34 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A letter-writing campaign led by a Suffolk man has succeeded in getting three Richmond museums to put off discussions of a merger.

Leadership at the Museum of the Confederacy had been considering a plan to distribute its collection among other groups and sell its building, according to a blog post on the Sons of Confederate Veterans website signed by Commander in Chief Michael Givens. The Virginia Historical Society and the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, among others, would have taken parts of the collection, according to the plan.

As Virginia Division commander of the group of veterans’ descendents, Suffolk resident Mike Pullen helped lead the charge to put a stop to the plan he says would have put artifacts and documents in the hands of groups that are not “Confederate-friendly.”


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“What we’re trying to do is just ensure that American history is protected and saved,” he said. “We want to make sure that all American history is saved for future generations.”

If the building were sold, the White House of the Confederacy would be “isolated in an urban canyon” and lost to tourist traffic, according to the blog post. “To think that it will be (able) to sustain itself financially in that condition is difficult to imagine.”

The blog post called upon folks to express their opinion to the museum’s leadership, and emails from Pullen to his contacts did the same.

Pullen said museum officials seem to have backed off their plan, for now, and are talking only of collaboration, rather than a merger.

“We want to make sure it doesn’t go back to merging and doing away with the Museum of the Confederacy,” he said. “Right now, it’s kind of a wait-and-see type thing, and be vigilant and watch.”

Pullen said the Confederate Literacy Society collected many of the artifacts and documents in the collection immediately after the war ended, and the collection soon evolved into the Museum of the Confederacy. In the 150 years since, the collection has expanded many times over, thanks to donations from individuals giving family heirlooms and other treasures.

Pullen said he has visited the other museums and believes they’re not “Confederate-friendly,” from his own experiences.

“I’ve been there, and I’ve seen it,” he said. “It says the cause of the Civil War was slavery. That’s not the case. It wasn’t even a civil war. In a civil war, you’re trying to take over another government; the South wanted to be left alone and secede from the government.”

Pullen said the main goal of the letter-writing campaign he helped lead is to preserve history for future generations and honor the veterans.

“They’re all American veterans,” he said. “They’re not traitors to the country. They were fighting for a just cause during that time period. We want to take care of the history, the good and the bad. We need to have that out there for future generations.”