Civil War Museum in Spotsylvania County Closed

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A few years ago I was approached about getting involved in the founding of a new Civil War museum in Spotsylvania County.  I was appreciative of the offer, but declined owing to some of the unanswered questions that still lingered.  Well, Executive Director Terry Thomann managed to open his museum and even had plans to expand into a 3-story building.  The musuem had an attractive website with a number of exhibits scheduled, but this past weekend Thomann decided to close up shop and move to Fredericksburg.  Thomann is moving to Fredericksburg not to educate, but to entertain by opening a gift shop: “We have a great book section, lots of interesting historical toys and books for children and many historical gifts that both locals and tourists will love.”  Does downtown Fredericksburg really need another gift shop?

Thomann plans on opening a museum in the downtown area, but it is almost impossible to see how he can compete with the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center which is a must see if you are in the area.  Before Thomann can do anything it looks like there remains some outstanding lease issues with Spotsylvania County. 

Update: This morning I received additional information from a member of the museum’s Board of Directors. For a number of reasons I am not going to include that information since it is so confusing that I can’t make heads or tails of it. One wonders whether this individual even knew about the closing before this morning. I am more than happy to provide a link to an official statement on the museum’s website. It is curious that a statement wasn’t posted before this recent decision was made.

Update 2: Michael Aubrecht emailed me this morning with an update on the situation at the National Civil War Life Museum. Owing to the many insults directed at me over the past two years I’ve made it a point not to respond to his emails and the few comments that he has sent to Civil War Memory. In this case I indicated that I would be more than happy to include a link to a statement on the museum’s website rather than his own personal blog. Well, as one might expect Mr. Aubrecht has decided to call me out once again on his blog. Given our past I see no reason whatsoever as to why he feels a need to mention me by name as well as my refusal to post his information. If you need to be reminded of why I have taken this position consider what Mr. Aubrecht published on his website last weekend, but then later took down. This is just a taste:

Mr. Levin, You are nothing more than a high school history teacher with an over-abundant amount of leisure time. When you finally write a book, work at a university, or do something professionally that is not equivalent to a home-economics teacher, then you can justifiably attack those that do. Until then, put the keyboard down and go back to making sure no one’s throwing food in the cafeteria at lunch time. That’s your job. That’s what you get paid for. The rest of us are tired of your instigation. We don’t have the free time that you do to play pretend online.

Do I really need to justify my decision not to have any contact with this individual? One day it’s insults and the next it’s kindness and the pattern continues. If this organization wants to disseminate information it should do so on their website. I assume that is why they have it. I would love to know if Mr. Aubrecht is attacking me as a blogger or as a member of the Board of Directors. Perhaps a lesson in public relations is in order.

Update 3: Click here for another reason as to why I did not post Mr. Aubrecht’s comment or respond to his emails.

8 comments… add one

  • karenlcox Nov 24, 2009

    As someone who teaches museum studies, this is a classic case of “just-because-you-want-to-open-a-museum-doesn't-mean-it's-a-guaranteed-success.” Clearly, no forethought here. Clearly, this guy is about making profits and, except for places like the Spy Museum and Madame Tussaud's, museums are non-profit. Aren't you glad you didn't get involved in this?

    • Leonard Lanier Nov 24, 2009

      Your comment brings to mind a piece of advice from PBS travel guide Rick Steves. When a museum “devote[s] more square footage to their shops than to their exhibits,” stay clear.

      • Kevin Levin Nov 24, 2009

        Well, I don't know what the square footage for the gift shop is in relationship to their exhibits. I do know the location where they've moved and it is very small. The other problem with the location is that it is located in a shopping area, which will make it much more difficult to emphasize the collection.

    • Kevin Levin Nov 24, 2009

      Unfortunately, I think you are right. The Civil War museum at Tredegar is having a difficult time and they have a a great deal of funding and backing from various organizations. When I was told the museum would be located in Spotsylvania I knew it was a losing venture. That said, I wished the organization all the best since they are trying to educate. I suspect that this museum is on its last legs if it ever had any.

  • Andrea Nov 24, 2009

    I don't know how you can fail to be excited, Kevin, they're going to have a *Mort* *Kunstler* gallery! I just about peed myself from excitement this morning when I read about it.

    • Kevin Levin Nov 24, 2009

      I believe that makes three Kunstler galleries in the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania area. Whoopie!!

  • Andrea Nov 24, 2009

    I don't know how you can fail to be excited, Kevin, they're going to have a *Mort* *Kunstler* gallery! I just about peed myself from excitement this morning when I read about it.

  • Kevin Levin Nov 24, 2009

    I believe that makes three Kunstler galleries in the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania area. Whoopie!!

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