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The Project

Governor Ralph Northam has announced plans to replace a 134-year old time capsule embedded in the pedestal foundation of the Robert E. Lee statue located at Monument and Allen Avenues in Richmond. The Governor is inviting Virginians to suggest new artifacts that will be installed when the statue is removed.

“It’s time to say to the world, this is today’s Virginia, not yesterday’s. And one day, when future generations look back at this moment, they will be able to learn about the inclusive, welcoming Commonwealth that we are building together. I encourage Virginians to be part of this unique effort to tell our shared story.”

— Governor Ralph S. Northam

Virginians interested in participating should submit a description of their artifact, the item’s size and material, and an explanation of how the object represents Virginia. To submit an artifact for consideration, individuals must own the item or have the ability to obtain it. Submissions will be collected for one month, through Tuesday, July 20th.

After the submission deadline, suggested items will be reviewed by a panel. Items selected for inclusion in the new time capsule will be collected by the Governor’s Office, placed in a new time capsule, and stored by the Department of Historic Resources until the time capsule is installed.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Tori Feyrer at tori.feyrer@governor.virginia.gov.

The Old Capsule

Historians believe a copper time capsule was placed in the cornerstone of the Robert E. Lee monument pedestal on October 27, 1887. Records from the Library of Virginia suggest that 37 Richmond residents, organizations, and business contributed about 60 objects to the capsule, many of which are believed to be related to the confederacy. Below is an article from the Richmond Dispatch dated October 26, 1887, describing the original capsule’s contents.

time capsule article

On March 22, 2021, Historic Jamestown, an entity of Preservation Virginia, conducted a scan of the pedestal and identified a void in the base where the time capsule is likely housed. The Department of General Services analyzed the results of the scan and concluded that the time capsule can be removed and replaced without damaging the fidelity of the structure.

Precautions will be taken upon the removal of the capsule to ensure the contents' appropriate treatment by a qualified conservator. The capsule and its contents will be transferred for safekeeping at the Department of Historic Resources' conservation lab, where expert staff can oversee the examination of the contents.