RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new gallery on Cary Street will house a plethora of historical artifacts as well as banned books, community spaces and more.

“Cary Forward” is the brainchild of artist Paul Rucker, an assistant professor at VCU. The space is described as “a multidisciplinary arts space, interpretive center, artist/researcher residency and archival lending library” on Cary street, which Rucker notes is named after a prominent enslaver who was a strong supporter of the confederacy.

“Addressing false narratives and the denial of histories are two of the unspoken foundational goals of critical race theory,” Rucker said. “Cary Forward will deliver its programming and initiatives from a place of ‘show and tell’ in how we approach shows and public engagement. The stories will include the ones that were not taught in school and are now banned.”

Rucker will draw in part from a collection of over 20,000 historical artifacts spanning the length and breadth of American history, while also featuring a library of banned books and studios for community use.

“At one point in collecting the 20,000-plus artifacts I felt that there was a need to share these items in a way that would be beneficial to addressing false narratives while instilling pride by making things that have been made invisible, visible,” Rucker said.

The historical exhibitions will focus on “enslavement, incarceration, systemic racism and the destruction of communities, as well as the stories of resilience, perseverance and the thriving communities that once existed in Richmond and beyond.”

Cary Forward will receive a total of $2 million in grant funding from the Mellon Foundation and the Art for Justice Fund.

“Paul Rucker’s vision to build a future where all can be celebrated in the fullness of their histories and identities aligns with the fund’s mission,” said Agnes Gund, founder of Art for Justice. “Only by acknowledging our country’s history of racism and exploitation can we imagine a more just and safe world, free from mass incarceration and systemic harm.”