Our Exhibits

Photographer Russell “Rip” Payne (1916-1990) captured this historic moment one afternoon as children left an integrated public school for the first time in Charlottesville. Like most of the former Confederate South in the wake of the May 17, 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, white leaders in Virginia pledged a protest of “massive resistance” against any effort to desegregate public schools.  On September 19, 1958, rather than accept integration, Virginia Governor Lindsay Almond ordered the all-white public schools closed in select communities, which included the City of Charlottesville. The move attracted national press attention. It was not until September 8, 1959, owing to a court order, that the schools were at last desegregated and children of color began to attend the formerly all-white schools in Charlottesville: nine at Venable Elementary and three at Lane High School, known collectively as “the Charlottesville Twelve.”

The Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society creates engaging and vibrant exhibits that interpret the history and culture of Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville. Beginning in 1994, when we took up residence in the historic McIntire Public Library, the main hall has provided a venue for ground-breaking exhibits exploring our diverse collections and archives, the local heritage of Jewish life and culture, African-American history, the stories of Greek and Irish immigration to Charlottesville, art and architecture, businesses, education, medicine, and much more. We continue to offer regular exhibits, all free and open to the public. Please check the Calendar for scheduling information and follow us on Facebook for the latest updates.

Future Exhibits

Our Building Turns 100:

1921-2021 – The First Public Library, Paul McIntire, and Charlottesville

Past Exhibits

Gone But Not Forgotten: Unearthing Memories at Daughters of Zion Cemetery (2018)

In partnership with the Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery, the exhibit “Gone But Not Forgotten: Unearthing Memories at Daughters of Zion Cemetery,” explored the fascinating stories of people interred in one of the first public, African-American cemeteries in this part of the South, established in 1873 near downtown Charlottesville. The exhibit detailed information about the efforts to preserve the historic grounds and conduct archaeological research.

Ed Rosebery’s Charlottesville (2018 to present)

Known to generations of his friends as “Flash,” Ed Roseberry (born 1925) continues to be one of Virginia’s most celebrated and accomplished photographers. His iconic and award-winning work spans more than seven decades, and has focused on the people, events and scenes of Charlottesville, Albemarle and the University of Virginia. This free exhibit showcased dozens of classic photographs from the Roseberry Collection, and included detailed historic captions for every image. “Ed Roseberry’s Charlottesville” is on display for free at The Nook Restaurant on the Downtown Mall.

"Charlottesville’s Attic" – The Story of Us (2019)

Exhibit comprised of the incredible collection of artifacts held by the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. Dozens of items from our attic, each with its own story to tell. Presented with the generous support of Afton Mountain Vineyards and Champion Brewing Company.

From Civil War to Civil Rights: The Jewish Experience in Charlottesville (2019-2020)

The exhibit, written by Dr. Phyllis K. Leffler and curated by Keri Matthews, explored the place of Jews in Charlottesville over one hundred years. Local history and current events alike show how, at times, Jews are welcomed and integrated into the life and activities of the spaces they inhabit. At other times, they are defined as racial or religious outsiders, subject to discrimination and prejudice. The exhibit helps us to understand many of the issues so relevant to today: the place of immigrants, the acceptance of the so-called other, the American mosaic of diversity, and the dangers of white supremacy.


The Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society Library is among the very best of local history libraries in the country. Created by a committee of Historical Society volunteers, the library opened to the public on October 29, 1974, in the renovated basement of our then headquarters at 220 Court Square. Since that time, the holdings have grown to include over 6,000 individual volumes, 15,000 pamphlets, 300 historic maps, and over 1,000 archived manuscript items. Operated in collaboration with the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system, the library was officially renamed in 2020 the Margaret Martin O’Bryant Library & Research Collection in honor of her over 35 years of service to the Society.


In addition to our Library holdings of books, manuscripts and historic maps, our Collections contains thousands of artifacts donated to the Society. These items help to tell the story of Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville: from papers to portraiture to photographs, clothing, furniture, memorabilia and ephemera, all donated by individuals, families, businesses and organizations throughout Central Virginia over the past 80 years. A sample of artifacts can be found on our Collections webpage. If you would like to donate an historic item to be preserved in our collections or do research in our collections, please contact us.

Copyrights & Reproductions

As curators, librarians and historians, our staff members are responsible for safeguarding the condition of materials in our Collection and for respecting the wishes and interests of authors and donors. We also wish to contribute to scholarship and teaching and want to make the public more aware of the books, manuscripts, and historic items we have. To accomplish these goals, the reproduction of items is often required. If you have a need to reproduce items in our collection or learn what we have, click this link for our policies.

Call us

(434) 296-1492

Visit us

200 Second Street NE

Charlottesville, VA 22902

Want to work with us?

Are you a company, organization or individual interested in being a title sponsor for one of our programs?

At the Historic Public Library
On Market Street Park in Downtown Charlottesville
200 Second Street, NE
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Monday-Friday (8am-Noon) By Appointment
Phone: 434-296-1492
Email: [email protected]