Museum News


The Poe Museum’s screening of Vertigowent off as planned–in spite of the rain. A group of true cinephiles huddled together under a large tent to witness Hitchcock’s masterpiece while the rain pounded the tent. If you have not yet had the opportunity to watch a movie outdoors in a storm, you should definitely try it. Nothing heightens the cinematic experience quite the way Nature’s wrath does. The real-life dangers of flash floods and lightning strikes gave the audience just the right amount of genuine fear to help them properly empathize with James Stewart’s character in the film.

The lesson to be learned by all those unlucky enough miss out on this event is that the Poe Museum doesn’t cancel an event until the place is underwater. Our next event will be a Poe Memorial Service to be held at the Museum on October 5, so we encourage you to come no matter how terrible to weather is.

Solve the Mystery of Poe’s Death

The cause of Poe’s death remains a mystery 159 years after the fact. Theories abound, but none has become the definitive explanation. Now we are asking you to help solve the mystery. Check out some of the clues gathered from primary sources at On October 5, 2008 at the Poe Museum’s Poe Memorial Service, we will choose the best theories, and the winning detective will receive a prize. There is still plenty of time left to submit your theories, so we encourage you enter the contest and to come to the Poe Memorial Service.

Since this website was posted, we have already received some good theories, some of which are posted below.

I think that he took a drug over dose when he was sick.I think that because in the story it said that he became sick.He was also an alcoholic, so he probably took the medicine while he was drinking the alcohol. So it probably caused the brain tumor, which caused him to die.
~Allie Thomas, Maryland

I think he did an drug overdose or he was poisoned by someone.                                  ~Christopher Dailey and Richard Royal, Maryland

I believe he died because he could of possiably catched an airbourne disease coming and going from Richmond! Or possiably from a broken heart because his wife Virginia know as Ginny died of sickness. He really loved her and any person could die because a loved one has passed away.  The stress of being without out her may hurt way to much for him to bear and he just gave up, got sick and just passed away!
~Abbey, Florida

He died from a brain tumor and epilepsy because he had no treatment for either.
~Nicole, Florida

Poe in Comics

This isn’t technically related to the bicentennial, but the exhibit of Poe in the comics is still running at the Poe Museum. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see it, you still have until the end of October visit. Even those of you who are not particularly interested in comic books or graphic novels will still be able to appreciate the artistry of some of these drawings and paintings. Among my favorites were the illustrations by Richard Corben for “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Beautifully rendered, these dramatic images really make an impression on the viewer. The murderer’s face in “The Tell-Tale Heart” truly evokes his nervousness and paranoia. Corben’s drawings for “The Raven” are lyrical and enigmatic. They are hanging in a suitably creepy black room on the second floor of the exhibit building along with some dark drawings by other artists.

The first floor of the exhibit contains an overview of Poe in the comics. This section shows how not only Poe’s stories but also Poe, himself, have appeared in comics from the 1940s until today. The area devoted to Poe as a comic character gives the viewer a new perspective on the idea of Poe as a pop culture icon. Here you will encounter Poe joining forces with Batman and helping “the world’s smallest super hero” the Atom fight crime. An original drawing by Rick Geary for his book The Mystery of Mary Rogers details the real Poe’s attempt to solve an actual murder mystery, proving that Poe didn’t need Batman’s help to battle the forces of evil. (Come to the Poe Museum’s Summer 2009 exhibit “Ratiocination” to learn more about how Poe tried to solve some real-life mysteries.)

One case in this room is devoted to Poe parodies. Among these are a Simpsons version of “The Cask of Amontillado” and a story entitled “The Tell-Tale Fart.”

A favorite with many of visitors is Gris Grimly’s watercolor cover art for Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness. Grimly uses subtle washes of watercolor with delicate pen-and-ink details to create a twisted world that reminds one of a cross between a Tim Burton film and an Egon Schiele drawing.

In addition to the exhibit, the Poe Museum has published a catalog, The Incredible Mr. Poe, which includes a history of Poe in the comics by Dr. M. Thomas Inge, the collector who loaned many of the pieces in the show, as well as chronology of most of Poe’s comic appearances from the 1940s until 2007.


We started the countdown clock on months ago and every time I think we finally have a completed roster of events for 2009, we come up with some new idea or find a new partner to help us celebrate Poe’s life and works. Discussions of Poe always seem to lead to some new horizon yet unexplored by us here at the Poe Museum. Next week I am meeting with Larry Gard over at the Carpenter Science Theater (Science Museum of Virginia) to talk about interpreting Poe’s “Eureka” through a theatrical production. Though Poe meant for “Eureka” to be read only as a prose poem, his speculations about the hidden meanings of the universe, its structure, and how it works are fascinating to consider for a man of his time–or even for a man of our time. It is only appropriate for the Science Museum to tackle the interpretation of this particular work, the last that Poe published in his lifetime.

Poe shares his bicentennial with Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln and it is always interesting for me, especially since I am trained as an anthropologist, to consider that these three minds were all a product of the same era, granting them similar world views and cultural understandings of an age. When Larry Gard and I were brainstorming ideas the other day he thought that a conversation between Poe and Darwin would be an interesting one. I do too, but I’m glad Larry will be the one to write this theatrical excursion because it will be such an intense research process.

I still have more work to do–many more entries to load into the events calendar on this website. Despite my procrastination you can already see an interesting mix of performances and exhibits that will explore Poe during his bicentennial year. For now I think I am most eager to see the commemorative stamp that will be issued by the U.S. Postal Service. Its design is still a secret but I have heard from people in the know that it is an extraordinarily beautiful image. It should be unveiled in just a short time, as soon as the USPS announces their 2009 commemorative series. I am also curious to see (or rather hear) the Richmond Symphony’s performances dedicated to Edgar, and the amazing exhibit planned by the Library of Virginia.

I hope many people will join us to celebrate Edgar A. Poe’s influences and success in 2009.

Poe Museum

Richmond, Virginia