Fundraising Campaign Seeks $15 Million for Yorktown’s American Revolution Museum

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

The facade of the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. (Gregory Connolly/WYDaily)
The facade of the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. (Gregory Connolly/WYDaily)

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will be complete late next year, but in the meantime, one of the groups that oversees the museum is trying to raise money for exhibits and educational programs.

The campaign seeks $15 million, of which $10.4 million has already been raised thanks to several donations.

The new museum building is currently operating as the Yorktown Victory Center — the nearly 40-year-old museum it is replacing — however by late next year, it will be fully converted to the new museum.

“The story of this great nation’s journey to independence has been told for decades at the Yorktown Victory Center and soon will be told at the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe, speaking during a dinner Tuesday for the state-run Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and its private fundraising arm, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Inc., which is conducting the campaign.

The total cost of the new museum is about $50 million. It includes the 80,000-square-foot building and an expanded outdoor interpretive area with a larger Continental Army encampment and a Revolution-era farm.

The state is covering the cost of the building and exhibit construction, while private gifts and grants are paying for the galleries, outdoor exhibits and educational resources.

The donations have so far been used to pay for period artifacts to be displayed in the gallery, including a 1730s oil-on-canvas portrait of an African Muslim cleric from Senegal who was sold into slavery in colonial America and a rare newspaper printing of the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

The campaign has already attracted several large contributions, including $905,000 from Dominion Resources Inc., the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power. York County has committed $1 million over the next decade.

Members of the JYF’s board of trustees and the private fundraising group’s board of directors have contributed more than $2.3 million. Major commitments from those two boards include $500,000 from Sue H. Gerdelman, the past president of JYF Inc., and her husband John. The co-chairs of the campaign, Mari Ann and Charles Banks, have given $300,000.

Other contributors include Altria Group Inc., Ferguson Enterprises Inc., Newport News Shipbuilding, Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., and TowneBank.

“We are encouraged by and deeply grateful for the tremendous support we already have received for our vision,” said Clifford Fleet, the president of JYF Inc, in a news release. “We hope that people from across Virginia and across the nation continue to join in the Campaign for Support and ensure that the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will realize its vision as a leading center of education and tourism.”

JYF Executive Director Philip Emerson said he is “grateful” to the many donors who have helped support the nascent museum as it transitions from the Yorktown Victory Center to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Related Coverage: