Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Museum plan is taking shape
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jan 27, 2014, 11:50

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Herbert Bragg stands with Rebecca Rose in front of one of the proposed displays for the museum.

HOPEWELL — Over the centuries, many cultures have come through and settled in the city of Hopewell.

Rebecca Rose, founder and president of the Hopewell Museum of Art and Intercultural History, wants to celebrate those cultures through works of art by opening a museum in the city. 

When Rose moved to the area several years ago, she began working with the Juneteenth committee at Petersburg National Battlefield, hosted at Appomattox Manor in Hopewell.

On June 19, 1865 slaves in Galveston, Texas first learned of their freedom, granted to them by Abraham Lincoln in the Emancipation Proclamation, which was made official in 1863. The news of their freedom marks the origins of the Juneteenth celebrations, a day that is used to not only celebrate the freedom of slaves, but also the respect of all cultures. 

It was out of that spirit of freedom and celebration of cultures that Rose founded the museum. 

“The arts are a fundamentally important economic industry, generating revenue, creating jobs and developing communities. The Hopewell Museum of Art and Intercultural History strive to preserve unity among diversity in the spirit of creativity to delight, surprise, enlighten, excite and inspire,” the vision statement reads for the proposed museum. 

The museum will house collections of art from centuries passed and current works of art. Some of the work to be displayed is from Rose’s family. Her grandmother left Prince George in the 1930s and went to New York to be an artist and some of the art is from the brushstrokes of her grandmother’s paintbrush. 

“Ideally I want to help break down the stereotypes and barriers in the community,” Rose said. “So we can learn about each other’s history.” 

Rose has reached out to other groups in and around the local communities to help expand the museum collection. She has reached out to both the Hispanic community and the Czech Slovak community.

Rose said the goal of collecting the histories of all the other ethnicities will be to house them in the museum, with possible display cases of each culture’s history. But first, a building has to be selected for the museum. Rose has looked at three buildings on East Broadway. 

One building Rose has selected as a possible location is the former Social Services building. 

“The old Social Services building is the most ideal building,” Rose said. “One major problem with the building is that the basement floods.” 

In March of 2012, Rose gave a presentation on the proposed museum to the Hopewell City Council to gain their support to move forward with the project. 

Evan Kaufman, director of the Hopewell Downtown Partnership, is also working with Rose to implement the museum in downtown.

“Anybody who has an idea or project they want to implement in downtown, we are willing to help them to see what they need to get off the ground,” Kaufman said. “... She’s also been looking for a space that might house the museum. We’ve shown her a couple of options and we are continuing to work with her so that when the time comes, when they are ready to have their own space and when they have their business plan and everything’s set, we’ll be able to find an appropriate space for them that will hopefully enhance the downtown and what we’re trying to do.” 

Years ago when the downtown plan was implemented, a certain part of the downtown was designated to be an arts and cultural area, located by the Beacon Theatre, which Kaufman calls a catalyst for the arts in downtown Hopewell. 

“Having this venue that has these performances in the arts in terms of whether it be museums or galleries for music or anything that falls within the arts category, brings people to the area and makes it attractive for not only tourists but for residents to come and enjoy,” Kaufman said. 

Currently, Rose is obtaining her 501(c)(3) status, which would make the museum a nonprofit organization. This would allow the city to grant the museum a lease, which Rose said could be a 25-year agreement. Rose projects she will hear back regarding the application in June. 

Rose has reached out to other organizations in Richmond such as the Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Commonwealth Architects. She is also continuing to work with the city on the project, such a drawing up a business plan, completing research on city-owned properties and looking at grants to hire a consultant on the project. The “bare bones” estimate for the project is estimated at $15,000 and she said it is at least a year away from opening its doors. 

“We won’t get more of an estimate until the city makes a commitment on a building,” Rose said. “I want to move forward by summer and present to the city in June and try to get a commitment for that. In terms of the business structure, it’s on hold.” 

Though there isn’t a building yet, the community got a taste of what the museum would be like on Dec. 5. Rose held an open house and exhibit of the proposed museum and some works of art. She said there were six local artists and about 12 works from the collections to be housed at the museum. 

A collection has already begun forming. So far, there is a collection of approximately 300 works of art inclusive of paintings, sculpture, stained glass, blown glass, ceramics, drawings, watercolor and prints. 

For the museum, Rose has proposed several exhibits, including a gallery for the exhibition of local artists, an art in Virginia timeline exhibit, an intercultural history gallery, a Curtis W. Harris tribute gallery and a founders gallery of those involved in the museum. 

Rose’s plan also includes a donors wall of fame, visitors gift shop, reception area and visitors lounge and conference room with other offices. 

Rose has spent the majority of her life dedicated to the arts. From her early years with her grandmother to working on this museum for Hopewell, Rose wants the community to understand what art can do. 

“I am happy to encourage local artists,” Rose said. “Arts and the history of the community is important. It provides a lot. I have dedicated my life to doing something like this.” 

Rose wants this museum to not only reach the people in the city of Hopewell but those beyond the city limits. She said art has the power to teach and communicate messages to those who can belong its beauty. For this project, Rose wants to teach appreciation for the fellow man. 

“This is an opportunity for cultures to be represented and respected for each and every person,” Rose said. 

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