For me personally, the principal attraction of Richmond, Virginia is the presence there or in the vicinity of two first cousins and their families. For those of us who belong to what is known as the Second Generation (of Holocaust survivors), and whose families have been scattered all over the world as a result, the opportunities for a family reunion with relatives who live in different countries are few and far between, involving considerable expenditure of time, energy and mammon.
But there are other attractions in Richmond, the capital of the state of Virginia. Founded in 1737 by colonists from Britain, it was named for the area just outside London that goes by the same name, because the course of the James River, on whose banks it is situated, reminded the founders of the Thames at that spot in England.
Thus, the city has a proud Colonial past and Civil War history. As part of the old south, it was the capital of the Confederacy during the hostilities. One of its main thoroughfares is called Monuments Avenue, and contains monuments to various figures from American history and also…Arthur Ashe, former tennis champion and a native of Richmond. The general appearance of the city is of a pleasant, spacious place to live, with no shortage of land or resources, wide boulevards and plenty of greenery, within a general setting of woodland and farms.
There is also a thriving Jewish population which has been in the area almost since the establishment of the town, with a large, active community centre, several synagogues and a Holocaust Museum.
While the town has several museums of various kinds (a science museum, a children’s museum, a local historical museum, to name but a few), the jewel in Richmond’s crown is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Housed in a grand Victorian structure, a few years ago it underwent a massive expansion in which the exhibition space was almost doubled by the addition of a large glass structure.
The museum contains some stunning exhibits, among them artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, a rare collection of Fabergé eggs (not on display when we visited), an amazing display of Tiffany glass objects and an astounding array of works by French Impressionists from the private collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon. Just to list the various galleries and their contents would be tiresome to read, but believe me, the museum is a veritable treasure trove which merits a repeated visit