Museum News


August Unhappy Hour Celebrates “Hop-Frog”


On August 23 from 6-9 P.M., the Poe Museum will host an Unhappy Hour featuring Poe’s classic revenge tale “Hop-Frog.” Join us for live music by accoustic duo Haze and Dacey, a cash bar, and a special installation of the story by Haunts of Richmond. Admission is free, but a $5 suggested donation is welcomed.




Find a Lost Treasure at the Poe Museum


Did you enjoy Treasure Island, The Da Vinci Code, or National Treasure? These and similar tales had their origins in Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 tale of hidden treasure, invisible messages, cryptograms, riddles, and mysterious clues “The Gold-Bug.” It was Poe’s most popular story during his lifetime and has spawned countless imitations. Find out how it all began with an evening at the Poe Museum’s “Gold-Bug” Unhappy Hour.

On Thursday, July 26 from 6-9 P.M., the Poe Museum will host an Unhappy Hour and Carnival inspired by Poe’s classic treasure-hunt mystery “The Gold-Bug.” Guests can look forward to live music, Poe-themed carnival games, a performance of “The Gold-Bug,” a cash bar, and more. You can join the fun for a suggested donation of only five dollars. This is the perfect opportunity to rediscover “The Gold-Bug,” a forgotten treasure of world literature.

Click here to see photos and video from last summer’s carnival at the Poe Museum. This month’s event promises to be bigger and better.

Below are photos of the original illustrations for the first printing of the story as it appeared in the Philadelphia Dollar Newspaper in June 1843. Poe won a prize of $100 for the tale, and it was so popular it was reprinted in magazines around the world and even adapted into a play during the author’s lifetime.




An Unhappy Hour with extra bite … – “Berenice”


The Poe Museum celebrated its second Unhappy Hour of the season by putting the spotlight on “Berenice”, Poe’s 1835 tale of love, obsession and dentistry.

Berenice and Egaeus

Amber Boice as Berenice and Ryan Lee as Egaeus

The evenings festivities centered around a dramatic performance of the tale produced in cooperation with Haunts of Richmond and we were honored that Jeff Jerome of the Baltimore Poe House & Museum came down to see us and even graced each performance of the story with an informative introduction.

Poe Curators by the Old Stone House

Poe curators – Chris Semtner of the Richmond Poe Museum and Jeff Jerome of the Baltimore Poe House – posing outside the Old Stone House

Jeff Jerome with "Egaeus" and "Berenice"

Jeff Jerome getting into the spirit of the event with our “Berenice” actors

Richmond’s own Ethio-Jazz and World Groove powerhouse, Rattlemouth provided the evening’s musical accompaniment and their performance was much enjoyed by our guests.

Saxophonists Roger Carroll and Danny Finney of RattlemouthGuitarist George Lowe and Bassist Marc  Langelier of RattlemouthDrummer Robbie Kinter of RattlemouthBassist Marc Langelier and Percussionist Robbie Kinter of Rattlemouth

Various shots of Rattlemouth in action

Museum docent, Jessy Mullins educated and horrified guests with a brief presentation about 19th century dental practices and folks enjoyed wandering through our exhibits and taking in the ambience of the Enchanted Garden throughout the evening (despite there being a bit of rain).

Poe Museum docent Jessy Mullins

Jessy grossing people out about 19th century dentistry

"Berenice" and friend at Unhappy HourLovely Volunteer Ghouls at Unhappy HourFolks enjoying Unhappy Hour

Unhappy Hour atmosphere

It was a splendid evening full of bite and was enjoyed by all!

Tooth box!

Box o’ teeth used in the performance

As always, you can see more photos from the event (or share some of your own) by paying a visit to the Poe Museum’s flickr group.

Videos will be appearing on the museum’s Youtube channel soon as well, so keep an eye out!

Thanks to all who helped to make our May Unhappy Hour such a success!

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our NEXT Unhappy Hour, which is coming up on June 28th, 2012 and will be themed around “The Oval Portrait”. This 1842 tale by Poe inspired Oscar Wilde to write The Picture of Dorian Gray and the event should make an indelible impression on all who attend.




Poe Museum’s May Unhappy Hour: Berenice


On Thursday, May 24 from 6 to 9 P.M. the Poe Museum will host an Unhappy Hour inspired by the master of horror’s first horror story “Berenice” a tale of obsession, madness, and dentistry. The event features the premiere of a new short film of the story, live performances of the tale, refreshments, and live music by Rattlemouth. Live performances of “Berenice” will be staged at 7 P.M. and 8 P.M. Guests will learn about nineteenth century dental practices from a dental historian between the performances. Admission is by optional donation, and a cash bar is available. The Poe Museum’s exhibits will be open during the event, so visitors will have a chance to see the major new show of dozens of Poe’s manuscripts and letters in addition to its world renowned collection of Poe artifacts and memorabilia.

Rattlemouth

If you have not read “Berenice,” now is the perfect time to do so. This groundbreaking tale is Poe’s first horror story, and it helped to revolutionize a genre. First printed in March 1835 in the Southern Literary Messenger, the story is narrated by a man driven to do unspeakable things by his obsession with his wife’s teeth. If you do not have a chance to read it before you come, be sure to watch one of the performances at the Unhappy Hour.




The Poe Museum celebrates its 90th Anniversary with a Jazz Age Unhappy Hour


The Poe Museum first opened its doors to the public on April 26th, 1922.
On April 26, 2012, the museum celebrated its 90th birthday with a 1920s themed Unhappy Hour.

Lovely 1920s "Cigarette Girls" take a break for photos during Unhappy Hour

Poe Museum volunteers (the esteemed Heather and Courtney) posing as “Cigarette Girls” to collect donations to keep the Poe Museum around for another 90 years

For such an auspicious occasion we wanted to do something extra special so we managed to arrange for some 1920s authors to travel through time (perhaps in an old Ford a la Midnight In Paris?) and regale guests with tales of their lives and work as well as their interest in Poe. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, H.P. Lovecraft and James Branch Cabell were all on hand to pay tribute to Poe and to mingle with Unhappy Hour guests. (Many thanks to our wonderful living history actors that helped us bring them to life!)

The Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein in the Enchanted Garden

The Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein at Unhappy Hour

"H.P. Lovecraft" reading a poem of his own about Poe at Unhappy Hour

Author H. P. Lovecraft of Providence, Rhode Island, reading his poem “In a Sequester’d Providence Churchyard Where Once Poe Walk’d

"James Branch Cabell" and friends at Unhappy Hour

Richmond author James Branch Cabell enjoying the company of our lovely “Cigarette” Girls

State Delegate Jennifer McClellan posing in the Enchanted Garden

State Delegate Jennifer McClellan in the Enchanted Garden during the event

In addition to our 1920s authors State Delegate Jennifer McClellan was kind enough to pay us a visit and was gracious enough to help us out in acting as a judge for our 1920s costume contest (along with Scott and Sandi Bergman, owners of Haunts of Richmond).

1920s Costume Contest participants

1920s Costume Contest Participants

Many guests really got into the spirit of the event and there were many lovely 1920s style costumes in evidence throughout the evening.

Posing at Unhappy HourEnjoying Unhappy Hour

Enjoying Unhappy HourEnjoying Unhappy Hour

Assorted guests getting into the spirit of the evening

A great jazz accompaniment to the festivities was provided by the John Winn Duo.

Guests were able to get a chance to see our new exhibit “From Poe’s Quill: The Letters and Manuscripts of Edgar Allan Poe” which provides a unique opportunity to examine dozens of Edgar Allan Poe’s original manuscripts, including several never before displayed in public, a heretofore unknown draft version of his poem “To Helen” and even an alleged manuscript written by Poe frombeyond the grave transcribed with the help of a medium!

It was a wonderful celebration and we at the Poe Museum are very grateful to everyone who came out to enjoy and make it a success. As usual, you can check out more photos (and even share some of your own if you have some you’d like to share!) on the Poe Museum’s flickr group.

Check out a short candid video of the fun courtesy of Christine Stoddard of Quail Bell Productions:

And get ready because our 90th Anniversary celebrations will be continuing all year – our NEXT Unhappy Hour will take place on May 24th and will feature Poe’s short story “Berenice”. Music will be provided by Richmond’s celebrated world jazz ensemble Rattlemouth.




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 in Richmond is NOT CLOSING


Reports of the Poe Museum’s demise have been vastly exaggerated.

On Sunday morning, viewers of CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood were shocked to hear the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia is closing its doors. No one was more surprised than we at the Poe Museum. Not only are we not closing, but we are preparing to celebrate our ninetieth anniversary with a full schedule of exhibits and events. Since Sunday morning’s broadcast, the Poe Museum has been inundated with calls and emails from concerned citizens from across the country, but we assured them, and will continue to assure them, that the Poe Museum in Richmond is doing fine and has not lost its funding. We appreciate all the concern expressed by our friends, and we hope you will continue to support the Poe Museum.

If you have never been to the Poe Museum, or if you have not visited in a while, October is the perfect time to pay us a visit to see our new exhibits, “The Raven, Terror & Death” and “Death and Mourning in the Age of Poe.” We will also have a book launch for the new anthology Richmond Macabre on October 2, our annual commemoration of the anniversary of Poe’s death on October 6 (Yes, we celebrate his birthday as well as his death day.), our Halloween Unhappy Hour on October 27, and Poe’s Pumpkin Patch on October 29. In the new year, we will celebrate Poe’s birthday with a Poe-rade through Poe’s Richmond and the opening of a new exhibit of the 43 illustrations to “The Raven” done by James Carling in 1883 and not publicly exhibited in over 35 years. In April, we will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Poe Museum with a new exhibit of rarely seen or recently discovered Poe manuscripts and letters.

Below is a list of some of next year’s Unhappy Hours and exhibits. You can expect to see even more of the kind of events only the Poe Museum can bring you.

Saturday, January 14th – Poe’s Birthday Bash – Noon to midnight!

Saturday, January 14th- Exhibit Opening: “James Carling’s Illustrations for ‘The Raven’” (continues until May 30) in Exhibit Building

Thursday, April 26th – 90th Anniversary of Poe Museum opening (1920s garden party) – Unhappy Hour – 6-9pm

Thursday, April 26th –Exhibit Opening: “In Poe’s Hand: Letters and Manuscripts” (continues until July 11) in Memorial Building

Thursday, May 24th – Unhappy Hour “The Enchanted Garden” – 6-9pm

Thursday, June 28th – Unhappy Hour “The Gold Bug” (pirates!) – 6-9pm

Thursday, July 26th – Unhappy Hour “The Oval Portrait” (Poe Carnival) – 6-9pm

Thursday, July 26th –Exhibit Opening: “New Acquisitions of Poe Portraiture” (Until September 30) in Exhibit Building 2nd Floor

Thursday, August 23rd – Unhappy Hour “The Premature Burial” – 6-9pm
Thursday, Sept. 27th – Unhappy Hour “The Masque of the Red Death” (Poe variety show) – 6-9pm

Sunday, October 7th – Poe’s Death Day Celebration – Noon-6pm

Thursday, October 25th – Unhappy Hour “The Black Cat”—6-9pm

Sunday, October 28th – Poe’s Pumpkin Patch – Noon to 5pm

Friday, December 7th – Poe Illumination – 6-9pm




Unhappy Hour on the Night’s Plutonian Shore


Our September Unhappy Hour featured Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven”.

The evening was visited by a veritable flock of winged visitors thanks to some lovely Raven masks – some of which were made for the Poe Museum by a local craftsperson.

Ravens having fun at Unhappy Hour

The evening featured the U.S. debut of an art exhibit entitled “The Raven, Terror and Death” featuring works by U.S. and Mexican artists inspired by the famous poem.

People checking out the new Raven-inspired exhibitPeople checking out the new Raven-inspired exhibit

People checking out the new Raven exhibit

We also had several readings of the poem by people during the course of the evening. Here is a video sample featuring the actor Chris Patrick as Edgar Allan Poe:

(Chris Patrick is playing Poe this weekend in a Haunts of Richmond / Poe Museum co-production of Poe’s Haunted Homecoming Tour. We are grateful that Mr. Poe was able to give us a reading of “The Raven” at the Poe Museum before the show began at historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery. )

Excellent jazz accompaniment for the evening’s festivities was provided by Jack Winn Duo and Poe fans young and old (plus a stray bat or two) really got into the spirit of the event.

Fun at Unhappy HourThe Jack Winn Duo at Unhappy Hour Cute Kid getting into the Unhappy Hour spirit

Of course, this Unhappy Hour also served as the Poe Museum’s first event of our busy fall season. Make sure that you check our events calendar for information about all kinds of exciting things that will be happening in October.

First up on Sunday October 2nd from 2-4pm is the launch party for Richmond Macabre a horror anthology dedicated to Poe and featuring stories set right here in the River City. We hope to see folks at as many of our October events as possible. October is Poe’s month after all!




A Descent Into The Maelstrom – August Unhappy Hour


Eddy decked out for the Maelstrom

Eddy all decked out for the Descent into the Maelstrom Unhappy Hour

Our nautically-themed August Unhappy Hour based upon Poe’s tale “A Descent Into The Maelstrom” proved to be a bit prophetic in terms of weather, both on the actual night of the event and during the ensuing weekend when Richmond was paid a visit by Hurricane Irene.

The August 25th event started out a bit cloudy but to quote from Poe’s tale of the Maelstrom, “In less than a minute the storm was upon us – in less than two the sky was entirely overcast – and what with this and the driving spray, it became suddenly so dark that we could not see each other …” Actually, the thunderstorm was not quite as bad as all that, but it was rather impressive nonetheless with heavy rains, lightning forking across the skies and ominous rumbles of thunder. In short, it was a PERFECT setting for our Unhappy Hour theme. Quite a few hardy souls braved the weather to come out and enjoy the Unhappy Hour festivities.

Maelstrom Art at the Poe Museum

The impending storm made its presence felt on our Maelstrom art project, thereby making some folks’ artworks a bit more mixed-media than originally intended

Many folks huddled up in the Poe Shrine to hear a wonderful program of sea shanties courtesy of the wonderful Bob Zentz and several of his friends that he brought along for the event. We were treated to a dazzling display of multi-instrumental goodness – instruments used included a hurdy gurdy, concertina, doumbek and many more.

Here is some video of the musical festivities in the Poe Shrine:

There are several more videos on the Poe Museum’s Youtube Channel as well.

Bob Zentz and Friends in the Poe Shrine

So a great time was had in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the literal Maelstrom outside. We are also happy that the Museum didn’t suffer any significant damage as a result of Hurricane Irene’s visit a couple of nights after the Unhappy Hour.

Don’t forget that our next Unhappy Hour, which will feature Poe’s most famous poem “The Raven” is coming up on September 22nd. We’ll be joined by the Jack Winn Duo andquite possibly by a large, black bird!

There are quite a few great events coming up in September and October so make sure you stop by our Events Page on this website or visit us on our Facebook page to keep up with all the details!




August Unhappy Hour Preview


Our August Unhappy Hour, based on Poe’s 1841 tale “A Descent Into The Maelstrom”, is just a few hours away.

In keeping with the nautical nature of Poe’s tale, we will be treated to sea shanties by Bob Zentz.

Here is a bit more info about him (lifted from his bio – you can read the whole thing on his website:

Over the years, Bob participated in many folk ventures, near and far. He began teaching folk music classes in Old Dominion University’s Rainbow Program in 1971; he created and ran the “Old Dominion Folk Festival” from 1972-81; and became a fixture at the Virginia State Fair beginning in 1980, appearing for his 28th year consecutive year as resident performer in the Heritage Village in October 2009. He appeared on PBS’s long-running program “A Prairie Home Companion” in 1982, and crewed and performed aboard Pete Seeger’s Hudson River sloop “Clearwater,” helping to repair the Hudson River and spreading the word about preserving our waterways, from 1989-91. Bob’s recording of his composition, “Horizons,” was selected in 2006 to be on a tribute to environmental author and pioneer Rachel Carson on the centenary of her birth, entitled “Songs for the Earth.”

Bob has also represented America and its folk traditions far and wide. He represented the U.S. in Shanty Tour, Finland, in 1997, and was an instructor at the inaugural Common Ground, Scotland, in 2002. He performed at the Scottish National Folk Festival in 2002, was featured U.S. artist at the Australian National Folk Festival in Canberra in 2004, and performed that same year in Auckland and Wellington for the New Zealand Maritime Museums. A featured performer at the 2004 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Bob is also a regular member of the faculty each summer at Common Ground on the Hill, held at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.

Local accolades in the Hampton Roads area include the 1992 John Sears Award for Community Service from Festevents and the City of Norfolk. He created the program, “Life of the 19th Century Mariner” for the Mariners Museum in Newport News in 1995; composed and performed “(Ode to the) Schooner Virginia” at the keel-laying ceremony in 2002 and launching ceremony in 2004; and was music consultant and performer for the multimedia theater experience, “Chesapeake Celebration” in 2004. He was a founding member of the Outer Banks Opry in 2003; received a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in 2004 to present “Music of the Chesapeake” in Virginia Schools; and was profiled by Public Television’s “Virginia Currents” in 2003 for recognition of his many contributions to music and the community, at home and abroad.

Here is a clip of Mr. Zentz in action at the 2009 Richmond Folk Festival:

So what is a “sea shanty”, you ask? Well, sea shanties were work songs created and sung by sailors. In the days when most of the work on a ship required muscle power, these songs helped to synchronize sailors’ movements as they toiled at repetitive tasks. They also would have been useful to relieve the boredom that one might experience during long sea voyages. The word “shanty” actually derives from the French word “chanter” which means “to sing.”

Come on out from 6-9pm tomorrow night (August 25th) and get into the nautical spirit. As always, Unhappy Hour is free and open to the public. There will be free nibbles and a cash bar as well as fun activities.