Our Commonwealth

On Display
Exhibition Type
Long Term Exhibition
The entrance to a gallery with a wall graphic logo of the state of Virginia and the words "Our Commonwealth"

Admission: Included with Museum Daily Admission

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About the Exhibition:  Complementing the existing Story of Virginia exhibition which walks visitors through history in a timeline format, the rich cultural overview of Our Commonwealth immerses visitors in the landscapes, foodways, industries, and people that make up this diverse state.   

Highlights:  Scenic elements and large-scale, slowly changing digital projections called “living murals” frame the narrative footprint of each region to capture the unique essence of Virginians’ relationship with that place. Regionally-inspired lighting treatments and soundscapes complete the effect of bringing guests into the “place” essence of each of the regions.  

Digging Deep into Our Commonwealth: Visitors to the exhibition can explore Virginia in many ways, including interactive digital displays that take you on a journey to discover the people, places, history, and culture that make each region unique:

  • Take in the delectable cuisine of Tidewater
  • Explore one of America’s most diverse communities in Northern Virginia
  • Travel through time on Virginia’s historic roads and waterways
  • Delight in the music, crafts, and natural beauty of Southwest (and explore regional dance steps)
  • Be inspired by the stories of an African American family whose Virginia roots go back nearly 300 years    

Inside the Our Commonwealth Exhibition

Our Commonwealth Featured Artifacts

A black and gold painted wooden carousel horse
Carousel Horse attributed to James William Sheetz (American, 1851–1923), 1880–1890.

From the Narrow Passage Creek area, Shenandoah County, Virginia. Made of yellow pine, marbled glass, horsehair, paint. Courtesy of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Photo by Ron Blunt.

Davis Cup championship ring awarded to Arthur Ashe, 1970
Davis Cup championship ring awarded to Arthur Ashe, 1970

From the VMHC Collection, 2019.35.

A silver tracksuit jacket with purple racing stripes on the sleeves and an embroidered gold crown on the back
Tracksuit jacket, Missy Elliott “Respect M.E.” clothing line by Adidas, c. 2005

Adidas produced a line of clothing inspired by hip-hop legend and Portsmouth, Virginia, native Missy Elliott. The clothing line was named for her 2006 greatest hits album, Respect M.E. From the VMHC collection, 2018.68.

UVA silk boating scarf
University of Virginia silk boating scarf, 1888

From the VMHC Collection, 1976.7. Gift of D. (David) Tennant Bryan.

A painting of Peyton Randolph with a wig, brown jacket, and white frilled shirt
Painting of Peyton Randolph (1721-1775) by John Wollaston, 1755-58.

From the VMHC Collection, 1858.6.

Explore the Our Commonwealth Exhibition

Our Commonwealth is organized into five sections of multi-sensory displays through which visitors can immerse themselves in the artifacts and stories of the five major regions of Virginia.

An exhibition section about Central Virginia with photographs of artisans and food producers
Central Virginia
An exhibition section about Northern Virginia features pottery, painting of George Washington on a horse, and photos of diverse communities dancing and eating together
Northern Virginia
An exhibition section about Shenandoah Valley features artifacts and photographs of the region, including mountain hikes, agriculture, and cultural textiles
Shenandoah Valley
An exhibition section about Southwest Virginia includes photographs and artifacts related to music, mountain hikes, and industry.
Southwest Virginia
An exhibition section about the Tidewater region features artifacts and photographs about water industries, agriculture, and military.
People walk through a gallery of photographs and artifacts
Children view a museum display about boats
Silhouettes of two people looking at an exhibition of artifacts about Virginia regional history
A woman looks at a museum display including a bicycle and photographs of bike trails
A couple looks at an interactive touch screen in a gallery
A child points to an artifact high on a wall while a parent look son
Children interact with baskets of plastic vegetables
A woman views a wall of photographs

Special Partners 

Central Virginia 
Lynchburg Museum
Fredericksburg Area Museum
Northern Virginia 
Office of Historic Alexandria
Manassas Museum
Shenandoah Valley 
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Rockbridge Historical Society 
Southwestern Virginia 
Blue Ridge Institute and Museum 
WKMA/Never the Same Museum 
Historical Society Eastern Shore of Virginia 
Mariners’ Museum and Park  


Presenting Sponsor
Supported by
General & Mrs. John P. Jumper
Mr. & Mrs. Gerald F. Smith, Jr.
Melanie Trent Family Foundation
Additional Support by

Appalachian Electric Power Foundation 
Mr. & Mrs. William C. Davis 
Mr. & Mrs. W. Heywood Fralin 
Mr. & Mrs. William H. Fralin, Jr. 
Mars Foundation