Museum News


Edgar Allan Poe’s 203rd Birthday Bash


The Museum will be open from 10am – Midnight with events starting at NOON. Admission is $5 for the whole day, and you may come and go as you please so you can check out all the events you want to see!!! Events are still being added to the schedule, but see the current line-up below:

POE BIRTHDAY BASH SCHEDULE:

10:00am- 1:00pm: Gift shop sale! ( Take 15% off your entire purchase of $10 or more!)

12:00pm: Exhibit Opening (Stormier, Wilder and More Weird: James Carling and “The Raven” | and Curator talk.) *A MUST SEE*

1:00pm -1:15pm: Lucretia and Lavinia (belly dance duo )

1:15pm – 1:30pm: Aeon Yahweh (musician)

4:00pm – 5:00pm: Lucretia and Lavinia (belly dance duo)/ Sadira (dancer) and DragonSong (band)

5:00pm- on: Mulled Wine, Butter Beer and non-alcoholic beverage cash bar with free snacks.

5:30pm: Poe Birthday Cake

7:00pm – 8:00pm: Lucretia and Lavinia (belly dance duo)/ The Muse (dancer)/ Madame Onça (dancer)

8:00pm: Theatrical Victorian Seance. (See a Victorian Seance combining 19th century tricks and modern day effects)

9:00pm: Theatrical Victorian Seance. (See a Victorian Seance combining 19th century tricks and modern day effects)

11:30pm: Champagne Toast to Poe

*Additional events are still being finalized. Call the Museum at 804-648-5523 for more information (or) e-mail: [email protected]

Lucretia and Lavinia

Aeon Yahweh

Madame Onça




Fall 2011 Poe Museum Newsletter


Here is the latest issue of the Poe Museum’s newsletter Evermore containing updates on the Museum’s events, exhibits, and its 90th anniversary.

Fall2011PoeMuseumnewsletter




Poe Museum Acquires Documents Related to Poe’s Parents


Although the Poe Museum’s collection is comprised of thousands of objects, there are still holes in the collection. One place the collection can still grow is in its artifacts related to Edgar Allan Poe’s parents, the actors David Poe, Jr. (1784-1810?) and Eliza Poe (1787-1811). Both were actors who died young–when Edgar was only two. Poe’s mother was buried in an unmarked grave at St. John’s Church in Richmond, and the fate of Poe’s father in unknown.

Above: A notice for a benefit performance to be held on Mrs. Poe's behalf.

Few artifacts survive to tell the story of these talented people who left a lasting impression on Edgar Allan Poe’s life and work. That is why is a special treat to see the selection of documents the Poe Museum was able to bring together, with the help of the Library of Virginia and the Lilly Library, for its current exhibit, Poe’s Mother: The Untold Story. The Poe Museum’s contributions to the exhibit included the scripts from plays Poe’s parents performed, newspaper notices of benefits held on Mrs. Poe’s behalf, and reviews of their performances by critics of their day. Such documents serve as some of the few reminders of the careers of Poe’s talented parents, so it is always great to find such pieces to add more details to our understanding of their lives. This week, the Poe Museum did just that when it acquired three Boston newspapers from 1806 containing notices of Poe’s parents.

David and Eliza were married in April 1806 in Richmond. In October 1806, they appeared in on the stage in Boston, where their first son, William Henry Leonard Poe, was born on January 30, 1807. Their second son, Edgar Poe, was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. It was during this time in Boston that Eliza Poe wrote that it was in Boston that she had found her “best and most sympathetic friends.”

The newspapers the Poe Museum acquired date to October 29, 1806 (the month Mr. and Mrs. Poe arrived in Boston), November 8, 1806, and November 12, 1806. Poe’s mother is listed as appearing in the role of Fanny in the comedy the Clandestine Marriage on November 12. David Poe is listed as playing the role of Bellmour in Jane Shore on November 10, and both are listed as playing different plays on the same night on October 29.

You can learn more about the Poe Museum’s collection in our online collections database, and you can learn more about our new exhibit on our website.




In the footsteps of Poe – The University of Virginia


In 1826, Poe left Richmond to attend the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He enrolled at the university on February 14th, 1826. He was part of the second class to matriculate at Mr. Jefferson’s University. While in Charlottesville, Poe studied Ancient and Modern Languages and distinguished himself in both subjects. He appears to have been well-liked by other students and teachers and his room (number 13!) on the West Range at the University was a popular gathering place where Poe would entertain friends with tales of his own devising.

Unfortunately, Poe’s time at the University of Virginia was short-lived. His foster father, John Allan sent him to Charlottesville with insufficient funds to cover Poe’s school expenses. Mr. Allan did not respond to Poe’s requests for financial help, so Edgar resorted to gambling in an attempt to pay his bills. Edgar had no luck at this and wound up about $2000 in debt (bearing in mind that by his estimation, his bills at UVA would have totaled about $350 for the entire year). He left the University of Virginia on the 15th of December 1826 in disgrace.

Poe’s time at UVA has come to be appreciated in the ensuing years and his legacy there is maintained by The Raven Society, a prestigious honor society founded in 1904. The Raven Society lovingly maintains room # 13 on the West Range much as it must have appeared in Poe’s time and sponsors scholarships and fellowships to honor academic excellence.

Here is a picture of Poe’s West Range room from the Raven Society’s website:

Poe's room at the University of Virginia - Raven Society photo

On December 5, 2011, I got to attend a Virginia Association of Museums workshop at the University of Virginia Art Museum with fellow staff member Jennifer. We were inspired by the workshop and decided to do a little touring of UVA after we’d finished for the day.

We tracked down Poe’s dorm room on West Range and took pictures (of course!). We are geeks about such things here at the Poe Museum! (Endearing geeks. We hope.)

Jennifer visiting Poe's dorm room at UVA Melanie visiting Poe's dorm room at UVA

Jennifer and Melanie in 2 different photos by the door to room #13 West Range

We also checked out the nearby historic marker devoted to Poe and visited the Rotunda, the centerpiece of Jefferson’s plan for the University. (It would still have been under construction when Poe was there.)

Jennifer with Poe's Historic Marker at UVA

Jennifer with Eddy’s historical marker

UVA Rotunda on a cloudy December Day

The UVA Rotunda on the day of our visit – it was a bit cloudy, but rather appropriately atmospheric under the circumstances

For more information on Poe at the University of Virginia, check out the Raven Society’s website – it’s worth the visit!




Two New Paintings of Eliza Poe


In honor of Edgar Allan Poe’s mother on the bicentennial of her death, a Richmond artist painted these two portraits of Eliza Poe. The first is closely based on the only surviving life portrait of Eliza Poe.

The second portrait was painted from the actress Debbie Phillips during one of her performances as Eliza Poe. This painting is currently hanging in the Poe Museum’s gift shop.




Poe Musuem Illumination fun


We had nearly 200 people attend our Poe Museum Illumination event on December 2nd 2011.

Guests enjoyed music by Beggars of Life and enjoyed a living history appearance from Eliza Poe (as portrayed by the lovely Debbie Phillips), who favored us with some Christmas carols that would have been familiar in her time. Guests also were introduced to Miss Emmeline Edens, a lady from the mid-19th century who shared about Christmas traditions from that era. (Emmeline was portrayed by Poe Museum docent Amber Edens.)

While they enjoyed thousands of sparkling lights and ornaments which rendered our Enchanted Garden even more enchanted than usual, our guests got to sample tasty gingerbread and hot beverages courtesy of the Dirty Apron Catering Company.

Here is some video from the festivities:


Video filmed and edited by Rachel Walisko

And here are a few photos:

Christmas at the Poe Museum

Photo courtesy of Melanie Armstrong

Poe Museum Illuminati​on, Richmond VA

Photo courtesy of Heather Addley

Poe Museum Illumination

Photo courtesy of Keith Kaufelt

Poe Museum Illumination - Lights

Photo courtesy of Courtney Ford

As always, more photos can be found in the Poe Museum’s flickr group.

It was a magical evening and we at the Poe Museum were delighted to share it with so many enthusiastic folks!




Bicentennial of Poe’s Mother’s Death Commemorated at Poe Museum


Thursday, December 8, 2011 is the bicentennial of the death of Edgar Allan Poe’s mother, Eliza Poe. Though Edgar was only two years old when he lost his mother, his “mournful and neverending remembrance” of her cast a shadow over his life and work. Although Eliza Poe’s fame has long been overshadowed by her famous son, she was actually a talented and popular actress in the early days of American theater.

In observance of the bicentennial, the Poe Museum hosted a lecture by renowned Poe scholar Richard Kopley, a performance by Eliza Poe interpreter Debbie Phillips, and an exhibit of rare artifacts related to her life and career. The weekend began with the Poe Illumination, in which the Poe Museum’s Enchanted Garden came to life with thousands of lights and holiday decorations. Below is some video of the Poe Foundation’s President, Dr. Harry Lee Poe, speaking at Eliza Poe’s grave after having laid a wreath on her monument.

The exhibit devoted to Poe’s mother continues until April 1, 2012, so be sure not to miss it. In case you can’t attend in person, some of the artifacts from the exhibit can now be seen in our online collections database.




Enjoy some holiday cheer at the Poe Museum Illumination


The Poe Museum is helping to usher in the holiday season with a special event of our own on Friday, December 2nd.

Our Enchanted Garden will be looking extra-enchanted with thousands of Christmas lights and assorted decorations.

There will be hot cider as well as tea, coffee and gingerbread for sale, and we’ll also have some free food.

Live music with a holiday twist will be provided by Beggars of Life.

We’ll also be visited by Poe’s mother, Eliza Poe (as portrayed by the lovely Debbie Phillips) and will be debuting a new exhibit in honor of the 200th anniversary of Mrs. Poe’s demise.

Miss Emmeline Edens, a lovely 19th century lady will also be on hand to assist with trimming our Christmas tree and to tell people a little about Christmas in her time.

So come on out to this event and pick up some presents for the Poe fan in your life in our shop while you’re at it – we have everything from ornaments and parasols to busts of Poe and a wonderful assortment of books.

Admission is free and holiday cheer is guaranteed! (We’ve even gotten a mention in RVANews!)

(We’ve even gotten a mention in RVANews – how exciting!)