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Fun Fact Friday – Museum Building

After our charter was put into place in June of 1930, a lot of exciting plans were made for our property. As cultivation began on the park, lake, and dam (Lion’s Bridge), plans were also being drawn up for the proposed museum building.

The above image (dated February 27, 1931) shows the spot where the founders had originally intended for the main museum building to placed. It was a spot on Lake Maury overlooking Lion’s Bridge and the James River. Several plans and sketches were drawn up showing an impressive, rectangular building.

The above is just one of many sketches showing the building from various angles. Although it is a giant rectangle, the front looks like the bow of a ship with the statue (which presumably would have been done by Anna Huntington) as the figurehead. There would have been two main entrances, one on either of the short sides, and both would have bronze doors.

So why did this imposing structure never become reality? Because Archer Huntington did not think it was the right fit for the museum. He stated in a later dated April 4, 1931 that “My idea for the museum is a structure built not by architects but by engineers, and I think we can do this in the Yard. The moment you attempt to produce an art building on the usual Greek or Roman lines, you have made something which will clash entirely with the exhibits, which are purely scientific and mathematical.”

Hence we ended up with a structure resembling buildings more of science and engineering, such as those in the shipyard. As to why the museum ended up where it is today rather than on the lake, I don’t really know, but it is interesting to think about.

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