RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Mellon Foundation has announced over $16 million in funding for six Richmond-based projects and organizations with a specific focus on the city’s history.

The largest share of the funding — $11 million — will go towards the planning and development of a cultural space memorializing and commemorating the history of slavery in Richmond.

The Shockoe Heritage Campus Interpretive Center will be a 12,300-square-foot interactive space located at the Main Street Station train shed. According to Mayor Levar Stoney, the center will be part of a larger vision for a Shockoe Heritage Campus, including a memorial park and a National Slavery Museum.

“This is a significant step toward bringing the Heritage Campus to fruition and toward telling the story of enslaved and freed people,” Stoney said. “Richmond’s removal of its Confederate monuments was only one part of us elevating and sharing the stories of our untold and complex history.”

Other grantees in the Mellon Foundation’s funding include:

  • The JXN Project — to receive $1.5 million in support of research and programming for the history of Richmond — particularly in Jackson Ward, the country’s first historically Black urban neighborhood.
  • The Valentine Museum — to receive $1.2 million for projects involving Edward Valentine’s studio and the Wickham House — a former site of enslavement.
  • Cary Forward — to receive $1 million supporting different art disciplines related to local history narratives.
  • Untold RVA — to receive $850,000 in order to support the organization’s research of Richmond’s history.
  • Reclaiming the Monument — to receive 670,000 in support of the “Recontextualizing Richmond” public art project.

An ordinance to accept the Mellon grant funds will be introduced at the January 9, 2023 meeting of Richmond City Council. A formal announcement and acknowledgment of the Mellon grant will take place early in the new year. 

“Richmond has been the site of many stories that have shaped our understanding of who we are as Americans, but public commemoration in Richmond historically has been limited to only a few,” Elizabeth Alexander, President of the Mellon Foundation, said. “Today, the people of this city are lifting up the collective memory of its historic Black communities, unflinchingly addressing the city’s past as the capital of the state with the most enslaved people prior to the Civil War, and participating in the reimagining of the city’s public spaces to better reflect the fullness of its history.”