Hidden History: Where science and history intersect

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The building on Broad Street familiar to thousands of people has new life as the Science Museum of Virginia.

Go back almost 100 years ago, and what you see today was Richmond’s Union Station.

“People would sit and wait for their trains, wait for their families to come off a train,” explains Chuck English, the museum’s Director of Playful Learning and Inquiry.

The first train pulled out of Union Station in 1919, and today nods to the rich rail history remain.

(Photo Courtesy: Science Museum of Virginia)

“If you pay attention to the walls and what’s happening in some of the architecture, you still see some of the original signs behind some of the signs that we put up,” English points out.

The dome has withstood the test of time.

“One thing that a lot of people don’t know about it, that it was struck by lightning in the 50s, so it’s a kind of interesting fact,” says English.

The museum has made an effort to incorporate hidden history throughout, even included a photo of a notable visitor from the past.

“Back when this was a train station, Elvis came through this train station in 1956,” English says about the black and white picture in a frame hanging on a wall on the ground floor.

After the last train moved out in 1975, Union Station was set to be demolished.

However, science buffs came together with a goal: make the place from the past a future destination for wonderment.

(Photo Courtesy: Science Museum of Virginia)

The Science Museum of Virginia officially opened in 1977.

Cutting edge offerings are the norm now, but there is also a hope each visitor will take away an appreciation for all that paved the way for it.

“To see history, to see a building repurposed,” English outlines the goal. “But it’s also time to see where the intersection happens. There’s a lot of science.”

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