City of Richmond announces Shockoe Project

Anchored by National Slavery Museum, the project aims to help Richmond come to terms with its history

RIC shockoe project overhead

The Shockoe Project includes plans for a museum, a pedestrian bridge, green space, and more.

Images via city documents

On Tuesday, city leaders announced the Shockoe Project: a 10-acre development memorializing Richmond’s history with slavery, on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Plans for the project, set for the area next to the Main Street Station, have been in the works for 15 years.

The Shockoe Project Master Plan includes indoor and outdoor educational installments to create a “comprehensive, experiential destination ... recognizing the history of enslaved and free Africans and people of African descent.”

At the center of these designs is the future National Slavery Museum, a venture over a decade in the making. The proposed design is 62,100 sqft and will “tell the entirety of America’s slave trade story.” It would be located on the site of the African Burial Ground and Memorial at 1554 E. Broad St.

renderings of the proposed museum

The city plans for the National Slavery Museum to be over 61,000 sqft.

Renderings from the Shockoe Project master plan

The museum will feature exhibitions, spaces for reflection and contemplation, resource libraries, and programs for research and oral history preservation. It will also house a theater and several conference and multi-purpose rooms. The master plan suggests the museum aims to be open sometime around 2030.

Plans for the area include a gateway pedestrian bridge, walking trails, and access to the site of Lumpkin’s Slave Jail. It also allocates part of Main Street Station for the Shockoe Institute. That 12,000-sqft space in the train station aims to open by next year, and will use an $11 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to create an educational experience focused on “the roots of America’s social and economic challenges.”

Other elements of the master plan include improvements to Lumpkin’s Slave Jail and Shockoe Creek Garden, a public memorial of 200 sculptures in front of the museum, and a “Hush Arbor” for contemplation at the African Burial Ground site.

For more details on timeline and estimated costs, check out the full master plan.

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