Museum News


Poe: Science Fiction Pioneer


Most people know Edgar Allan Poe for his chilling tales of terror and his melancholy poetry. A few even know his for his groundbreaking detective stories, but most people have no idea he pioneered the science fiction story. That is why the Poe Museum’s new temporary exhibit Poe: Science Fiction Pioneer (running from October 17 until December 31, 2013) will highlight the author’s contributions to one of today’s most popular genres.

Poe wrote early accounts of cyborgs, space travel, and the distant future. Some of his tales about the marvels of modern science were so realistic some of his readers thought they were true. Explore the exhibit to discover such little known works as “The Man That Was Used Up,” “Some Words with a Mummy,” and “The Balloon Hoax.”




Poe Museum Finally Acquires Old Stone House


After ninety-one years occupying the Old Stone House, the Poe Foundation finally owns the building. On Saturday, October 5, 2013, Anne Geddy Cross (pictured above), President of President of Preservation Virginia, signed the Deed of Gift transferring the house and garden from Preservation Virginia to the Poe Foundation. The Poe Foundation’s Past President Harry Lee Poe and its new President Annemarie Weathers Beebe gratefully accepted the gift. Preservation Virginia’s Director of Preservation Services Louis Malon and the Poe Museum’s Curator Chris Semtner, who have both been coordinating the transfer process over the past few years, were in attendance to witness the event. Before the transfer could take place, an easement was registered with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to protect the house from significant changes that would alter its historic character.

Representing the Ege family, who owned the property from at least 1748 until 1911, Tina Egge, fifth great niece of Jacob Ege (different branches of the family spelled the name differently), the builder of the house, attended the event. Rose Marie Mitchell, who has written a new book about the history of the Old Stone House, spoke and signed copies of her book in the Exhibits Building, which featured a temporary exhibit documenting the history of the house.

The Poe Foundation has owned the rest of the Poe Museum buildings and grounds since the 1920s, so it is fitting that the Old Stone House should finally come under its ownership. Although the enormous gift and the new easement are significant developments for the Poe Foundation, the museum’s visitors will not see a dramatic change in the way the museum operates. They will, however, see some dramatic changes next spring when the major Enchanted Garden restoration project sponsored by the Garden Club of Virginia is underway.




The Unhappy Hour Returns to the Poe Museum


After a break for the summer, the Poe Museum’s popular monthly event series, the Unhappy Hour, returns Thursday, September 26 from six to nine for an evening of live music, fine food and drink, and the closing of the museum’s special exhibit Poe in Paris. The theme for the night is “The Fall of the House of Usher,” so we will be screening a short film inspired by the story. The music will be provided by Margot MacDonald, and, in honor of the Poe in Paris exhibit, food will be provided courtesy of La Parisienne Bistro and Café. The event will take place in the Poe Museum’s legendary Enchanted Garden. Admission is by five dollar optional donation, and a cash bar will be available. For more information, contact the Poe Museum at 888-21-EAPOE or email us at [email protected]

Fine French Food Courtesy of:




“Poe in Paris” Exhibit Explores Poe’s International Influence


The Poe Museum is proud to announce its upcoming exhibit “Poe in Paris,” which runs from June 23 until September 8, 2013 at the Poe Museum at 1914 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia. Drawing on rare artwork and documents from the Poe Museum and four other collections, the exhibit will explore Poe’s influence on French avant garde artists and writers of the nineteenth century. On Saturday, June 22 from 5 to 9 P.M. the Poe Museum will host a special preview opening and wine pairing for which tickets can be purchased at the museum or at poemuseum.org for $25 in advance or $30 at the door.

About Poe in Paris:

The progressive cultural climate of nineteenth century Paris gave birth to artistic movements like Impressionism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, and Fauvism. The writers and artists active there pioneered the concepts which would soon give birth to modern art and literature. One of the most important and influential figures in this incubator of innovative ideas never even visited Paris, but his name was on the lips of almost every member of the city’s avant garde. His works were discussed and imitated by the leading authors and illustrated by the most innovative artists. Though Edgar Allan Poe never saw Paris, some of his most important works were inspired by the city and, in turn, inspired Paris’s leading artists and writers including the painters Edouard Manet and Paul Gauguin and the writers Charles Baudelaire and Jules Verne.

Since most Americans only know Poe for a few of his horror stories, which comprise only a small fraction of his oeuvre, it is easy to forget that Richmond’s greatest writer was also America’s first internationally influential author. After his early death in 1849 and the dismissal of his works by some American critics, it was the Europeans—especially the French—who cultivated an appreciation of Poe’s revolutionary contributions to world literature and aesthetics. Poe and his followers promoted concepts like “Art for Art’s Sake” and “Pure Poetry” which turned the art world upside-down and ushered in the age of Modernism. It should be no wonder that Edouard Manet produced three portraits of him and provided illustrations for a French edition of “The Raven” translated by avant garde French poet Stephan Mallarme. Symbolist painter Paul Gauguin and Fauvist Henri Matisse were among the many French artists to produce Poe-inspired works. Considered the Father of Science Fiction, Jules Verne was inspired by Poe’s science fiction stories and even wrote a sequel to one of Poe’s novels.

The Poe Museum’s intriguing exhibit will feature Poe-inspired artwork by Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, and more in addition to rare early French translations of Poe’s works by Charles Baudelaire, Stephan Mallarme, and others. Assembled from the Poe Museum’s collection as well as from four other public and private collections, the exhibit will explore Poe’s presence in Parisian culture at the time Modern Art was born.

“Poe in Paris” will run from June 23 until September 8, 2013 with a special preview evening and wine pairing to be held on Saturday, June 22 from 5 to 9 P.M. The exhibit is included in the cost of Poe Museum general admission, but tickets for the preview evening and wine pairing can be purchased at the Poe Museum or on its website for $25 in advance or $30 at the door.




Poe’s Poetry Comes Alive in the Enchanted Garden


April is National Poetry Month and the perfect time for a visit to the Poe Museum. Not only is the Poe Museum currently exhibiting a manuscript for Poe’s early poem “To Helen” as well as rare first editions of Poe’s volumes Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems, Poems, and The Raven and Other Poems, but the Museum is also home to a garden inspired by Poe’s poetry.

The Poe Museum’s legendary Enchanted Garden opened in April 1922 as Virginia’s first memorial to Edgar Allan Poe. The garden remains the heart of the Poe Museum complex and continues to thrive as a living embodiment of Poe’s poetic ideals. The name of the garden was borrowed from a line from Poe’s 1848 version of “To Helen.” The layout was derived from his poem “To One in Paradise,” and most of the flowers, trees, and shrubs were mentioned in hiss poems and short stories. Among the many plants visitors will encounter in the Enchanted Garden are begonias, clematis, geraniums, hyacinths, hydrangeas, pansies, roses, violets, and tulips. The grassy lawns are lined with ivy (said to have been taken from Poe’s mother’s grave at St. John’s Church), and the exterior staircase is covered in jasmine. Shade is provided by lovely old boxwoods which have grown to the size of trees. Other trees and shrubs include dogwoods, camellias, a magnolia, and a huge photinia, each of which displays beautiful flowers at different times of the year.

In addition to planting a variety of colorful plants, the founders of the Poe Museum incorporated building materials from a number of demolished buildings associated with the poet. The pergola was constructed using bricks and granite salvaged from the office of the Southern Literary Messenger, the magazine at which Poe began his career in journalism. The garden also contains elements from Poe’s foster father’s office, a boarding house in which Poe lived in Richmond, and from one of Poe’s New York homes.

If a garden seems an unusual memorial to a writer best known for his tales of murder and madness, you might be surprised to learn Poe loved nature and wrote a number of pieces about nature and landscape gardens. Among these are “Morning on the Wissahiccon,” “The Landor’s Cottage,” and “The Domain of Arnheim.” In the following passage from “The Domain of Arnheim,” Poe explains how a garden is like a poem:

“Ellison became neither musician nor poet; although no man lived more profoundly enamored of music and poetry. Under other circumstances than those which invested him, it is not impossible that he would have become a painter. Sculpture, although in its nature rigorously poetical was too limited in its extent and consequences, to have occupied, at any time, much of his attention. And I have now mentioned all the provinces in which the common understanding of the poetic sentiment has declared it capable of expatiating. But Ellison maintained that the richest, the truest, and most natural, if not altogether the most extensive province, had been unaccountably neglected. No definition had spoken of the landscape-gardener as of the poet; yet it seemed to my friend that the creation of the landscape-garden offered to the proper Muse the most magnificent of opportunities. Here, indeed, was the fairest field for the display of imagination in the endless combining of forms of novel beauty; the elements to enter into combination being, by a vast superiority, the most glorious which the earth could afford. In the multiform and multicolor of the flowers and the trees, he recognized the most direct and energetic efforts of Nature at physical loveliness. And in the direction or concentration of this effort — or, more properly, in its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it on earth — he perceived that he should be employing the best means — laboring to the greatest advantage — in the fulfillment, not only of his own destiny as poet, but of the august purposes for which the Deity had implanted the poetic sentiment in man.”

A visit to the Enchanted Garden is like walking through Poe’s poetry, and National Poetry Month is a great time to see the spring flowers in bloom.




Leading Comic Artist will Speak at Poe Museum


Renowned comic artist Michael Golden, whose illustrations for a comic book adaptation of “The Tell-Tale Heart” are featured in the Poe Museum’s current exhibit “Still Beating: ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ Turns 170,” will be visiting the Poe Museum on Thursday, March 14 from 6-10 P.M. for a book signing and a lecture on his career and the art of sequential storytelling. This will be a great opportunity to meet one of the world’s leading comic artists.

Michael Golden is one of the world’s most popular comic artists, having provided artwork for G.I. Joe, The Adventures of Superman, Batman, The Micronauts, and many other groundbreaking series, including The ‘Nam. He is the co-creator of Rogue from the X-Men as well as Bucky O’Hare and Spartan X. He has served as an editor at DC Comics as well as Senior Art Director at Marvel Comics. In addition to continuing to create sequential stories, he also conducts classes in storytelling at venues around the world. The artwork in the Poe Museum’s exhibit, which is among his earliest published work, was printed in Marvel Classics #28 in 1977.

Michael Golden with Art




Poe’s 204th Birthday Bash Will Be Biggest To Date


The Poe Museum in Richmond’s annual Poe Birthday Bash has been getting bigger and better every year, attracting visitors from around the globe; but this year’s celebration promises to be bigger than ever because it will be celebrating the birthdays of both Edgar Allan Poe and his horror classic “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

On January 19, 2013 from noon to midnight, the Poe Museum will celebrate its biggest Poe Birthday Bash ever to honor both Poe’s 204th birthday and the 170th anniversary of the first printing of his greatest horror story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” with a day of festivities featuring no fewer than six performances, five tours, four historical interpreters, two films, a Poe trivia showdown, and the opening of the first public exhibition of the Museum’s most recently acquired artifact, the coveted first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” In addition to this prized artifact, the exhibit will also feature sixteen original illustrations for comic book adaptations of the story by acclaimed artists Richard Corben and Michael Golden.

What’s Happening at Poe’s Birthday Bash:
Among the activities going on at the Poe Birthday Bash will be a reading of “The Tell-Tale Heart” at twelve-thirty; a walking tour of neighborhood Poe sites at one; a living history performance by Poe’s fiancées Sarah Helen Whitman, Elmira Shelton, and Virginia Clemm Poe at three; birthday cake with Poe’s cousin Dr. Harry Lee Poe at four-thirty; a multilingual reading of “The Raven” at five, a performance of Poe’s works by English actor Tony Parkin at five-thirty; and a candlelight walking tour of neighborhood Poe sites by an actress portraying Poe’s fiancée Sarah Helen Whitman at eight. Guided tours of the museum will be available throughout the day, and live music will be performed after nine. The evening with conclude with an actress portraying Sarah Helen Whitman, who was a devoted Spiritualist, attempting to contact Poe’s spirit at eleven fifteen and a champagne toast to Poe at midnight.

Tentative Schedule:

12:00 pm: Guided tour. Gift shop sale: select items, up to 50% off! In store only, not valid for online purchases. Ongoing until 4:00 P.M.

12:30 pm: Performance of “the Tell-Tale Heart”

1:00 pm: Lecture on The 170th Anniversary of “the Tell-Tale Heart” by Chris Semtner, Curator of the Poe Museum

2:00 pm: Walking tour of Poe’s Richmond led by Chris Semtner. Guided tour

2:00 pm: Instrumental music inspired by Poe’s poem “The Valley of Unrest” composed and performed by Victor X. Haskins on the trumpet

3:00 pm: Showdown of Poe’s Brides

4:00 pm: Art sale at the bar. Ongoing until 11:00 pm, featuring works by the Clockwork Collective and Abigail Larson. Guided tour

4:30 pm: Cutting of Poe’s Birthday Cake

5:00 pm: Reading of “the Raven” and other poems

5:30 pm: Live from London via telecast, a performance of “the Tell-Tale Heart” and other Poe stories by actor Tony Parkin

6:00 pm: Guided Tour

6:30 pm: Film screening of a 2010 animated short of “the Tell-Tale Heart” directed by Michael Swertfager. Guided tour

7:00 pm: Film screening of a 1928 experimental silent version of “the Fall of the House of Usher” directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber

7:30 pm: Poe Trivia (with Poe Museum merchandise prizes)

8:00 pm: Living History Walking tour of Poe’s Richmond led by Poe’s fiance, the poetess Sarah Helen Whitman.

9:00 pm: Live music by The Blue and the Grey

http://www.facebook.com/TheBlueAndTheGrey

10:00 pm: Reading of “The Black Cat”

10:15 pm: Live music continues

11:15 pm: Living History Seance performed by Sarah Helen Whitman

12:00 am: Champagne toast

Click here for photos from last year’s Poe Birthday Bash.




New Exhibit Focuses on Poe’s Horror Masterpiece


From January 19 until March 31, 2013, the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia will feature a special exhibit celebrating the 170th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s horror masterpiece “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Opening on Poe’s birthday, January 19, the exhibit brings together the Poe Museum’s recently acquired first printing of the story and loans of sixteen original drawings for comic book adaptations of the story by acclaimed illustrators Richard Corben and Michael Golden.

Michael Golden is one of the world’s most popular comic artists, having provided artwork for G.I. Joe, The Adventures of Superman, Batman, The Micronauts, and several other series. The artwork in the exhibit, which is among his earliest published work, was printed in Marvel Classics #28 in 1977.

Richard Corben began his career in animation before turning to underground comics. In 1976 he adapted a Robert E. Howard story into what is considered the first graphic novel, Bloodstar. His illustrious career has included work in album covers and movie posters, collaboration on a graphic novel with rock musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie, and an award-winning short film Neverwhere. The artwork on display was printed in Edgar Allan Poe’s Haunt of Horror #2 in 2006. One of the pieces will be an unpublished alternative cover design.

Admission to the exhibit is included in the price of Poe Museum general admission. The January 19 opening will coincide with the Poe Museum’s annual Poe Birthday Bash running from noon to midnight and featuring readings, live music, and a lecture about the legacy of “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

The exhibit was made possible by loans of artwork from the collections of Richard Corben and James Vacca.




Museum Acquires Poe’s Most Famous Story and a Piece of Poe’s Home


Even after ninety years, the Poe Museum’s collection continues to grow. Here are a few of the recent acquisitions made possible by the Poe Museum’s friends.

First Printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Almost everyone has read Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous short story of madness and murder, but this week the Poe Museum in Richmond finally acquired the coveted first printing of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The story first appeared in the inaugural issue (January 1843) of the Boston magazine The Pioneer, edited by poet James Russell Lowell (1819-1891). Since only three issues were published before Lowell discontinued the magazine, copies are now relatively rare. Considered the most ambitious literary journal of Antebellum America, The Pioneer’s three issues contained contributions by Poe, Lowell, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Poe Museum President Dr. Harry Lee Poe commented on the Poe Museum’s acquisition of the important first printing, “This is a prize for any collection especially because it is the story that is included in all the anthologies.” The piece will will go on display at the Poe Museum during the Museum’s day-long celebration of Poe’s birthday on January 19, 2013 from noon until midnight.

Though the story is a favorite with today’s readers, “The Tell-Tale Heart” was rejected the first time Poe tried to publish it– the publishers of the Boston Miscellany writing in their rejection letter, “If Mr. Poe would condescend to furnish more quiet articles, he would be a most desirable correspondent.” Lowell, however, liked the story and acquired it for the first issue of his own magazine, paying Poe ten dollars for the work. A number of magazines soon reprinted the story, but, owing to the lax copyright laws of the time, Poe did not receive any royalties for these unauthorized reprints. Two years later, the editor of Poe’s next collection of short stories did not select it for inclusion in what would be the last collection of Poe’s tales published during his lifetime.

The twentieth century’s leading Poe scholar Thomas Ollive Mabbott called Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” “a supreme artistic achievement,” and the tale has long been a favorite among readers. A staple at readings of Poe’s works, the story has been adapted several times to film, including the 2009 movie “Tell-Tale” starring Josh Lucas and the upcoming “The Tell-Tale Heart” starring Rose McGowan. It even inspired an episode of the television program “The Simpsons” in which Lisa built a diorama based on the story.

Plaster from Poe’s Home in Baltimore

On October 25, the outgoing Curator of the Poe House and Museum of Baltimore, Jeff Jerome, presented the Poe Museum with a piece of horse hair from the Poe House. The plaster was removed from the interior east wall of the front room during a wall repair, and Jerome saved a few pieces of the plaster the repairmen discarded at that time. This piece, which measures about seven inches in width, may be a remnant of the house’s original (ca. 1830) plaster and would, therefore, date to the time of Poe’s residence in the building from early 1833 until August 1835. During Poe’s residence there, he wrote some of his major early tales including his first horror story “Berenice.” He lived in the house with his grandmother Elizabeth Poe, his cousin Henry Clemm, his aunt (and future mother-in-law) Maria Poe Clemm, and his cousin (and future wife) Virginia Clemm.

This piece will be a welcome addition to the Poe Museum’s collection of building materials from various buildings (most of which have been demolished) in which Poe lived or worked. Among the Poe-related building materials already in the Poe Museum’s collection are bricks from the office in which Poe worked for the Southern Literary Messenger, bricks from the headquarters of Poe’s foster father’s firm Ellis and Allan, granite from the home in which Poe was married, bricks from Poe’s home in New York City, a mantle from Poe’s bedroom in Richmond, locks and hinges from other Richmond buildings associated with Poe, lumber from the Southern Literary Messenger office, an urn from the garden in which Poe courted his first fiancée, and the staircase from Poe’s boyhood home. The Poe Museum’s collection of furnishings from Poe-related buildings includes the author’s bed, the chair on which he sat while editing the Southern Literary Messenger, and paintings from his home.

An Article about Poe

Another fine addition to the Poe Museum’s collection was the recent gift of Michael Blankenship of Roanoke, Virginia. The gift, the April 1891 issue of Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly contains the article “Some Memorials of Edgar Allan Poe” by Clara Dargan Maclean, who reports on her visits to the surviving residences of Poe and her interviews with people who knew him. The article contains some fine engravings as well as some interesting details about Poe’s death. Maclean was a proponent of the theory that Poe’s death resulted from cooping, the practice of abducting and drugging of men to force them to vote multiple times. The actual cause of Poe’s disappearance and death remains a mystery.

Appropriately enough, Blankenship donated the piece to the Poe Museum on Halloween. This magazine will be added to the Poe Museum’s reference library, which boasts already thousands of books and periodicals about Edgar Allan Poe’s life and works.

Below are some of the beautiful engravings from the article.




“Hop-Frog” Exhibit will Close this Saturday, September 29


Be sure to visit the Poe Museum today before you miss the chance to see the Poe Museum’s strange new temporary exhibit “Hop-Frog,” which brings Poe’s classic revenge horror/comedy to life with sights and sounds provided by haunted house attraction operators Haunts of Richmond. The exhibit is included in the price of Poe Museum general admission, and this Thursday’s Unhappy Hour will be a perfect time to see it.

The exhibit’s last day will be this Saturday, September 29, and deinstallation will begin on Sunday in preparation of the Poe Museum’s next show “The Masque of the Red Death in Stained Glass.” We do not want to give away too much of what you can expect from this weird exhibit, but here is a photograph of part of the display.