The VMI Museum, founded in 1856 by Superintendent Francis H. Smith, was the first public museum to be established in the Commonwealth. According to the museum’s website, the facility holds over 15,000 artifacts, including General “Stonewall” Jackson’s favorite horse, “Little Sorrell,” as well as seven Medals of Honors awarded throughout the years to VMI alumni.
The museum’s permanent collection focuses around six major areas: Cadet Uniforms and Equipage, The Henry Stewart 19th Century Antique Firearms Collection, VMI Involvement in the Civil War, the VMI Archives, Military and Civilian Accomplishments of National Importance, and “Stonewall” Jackson at VMI.
Cadet Uniforms & Equipage
This collection is extensive and includes such items as a “VMI web belt Mama kept,” donated with a handwritten note by General George Patton (VMI Class of 1907).
The first full dress uniform, the Coatee from 1845, is “virtually identical to those worn by modern cadets.”
The Henry Stewart 19th Century Antique Firearms Collection
Henry Stewart (VMI Class of 1935) collected this extremely rare collection of more than 800 pieces over a period of half a century. The collection includes an air rifle carried by Lewis and Clark during their cross-country trek, an Artemus Wheeler Revolving Carbine, and an engraved Porter Rifle.
The collection is current available to researchers by appointment, however, plans are underway to make the entire collection public and on permanent display.
VMI Involvement in the Civil War
Out of 1,900 VMI alumni between 1842 and 1861, 1,700 served in the Confederate Army and sixteen served in the Union Art. VMI’s nickname as “The West Point of the South” reportedly developed during this time due both the cadets and alumni roles as soldiers.
The VMI Archives
Located in Preston Library, these 19th and 20th century collections, contain full-text resources, images and other in-depth information available to both the public and researcher. Many pieces are available online and accessed through the archive website.
Online Exhibits include the Digital Cadet Newspaper Project, Dr. Wallace S. Douglas and the World War II Medical Corps in New Caledonia, the Col. Wesley Fox Interview (part of the Korean War Oral History) and the VMI Barracks History, a National Historic Landmark.
Military & Civilian Accomplishments of National Importance
This permanent exhibit showcases the honor-strewn civilian and military careers of VMI alumni. A partial list of alumni accomplishments includes Nobel Prize recipients, Pulitzer Prize winner, Rhodes Scholars and 7 Medal of Honor Recipients.
“Stonewall” Jackson at VMI
While Jackson graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, it is VMI that has adopted Jackson as its own. He was a VMI Professor of Natural Philosophy, Optics and Artillery Tactics, excelling at the latter.
General and Professional “Stonewall” Jackson is revered at VMI and this museum is a “major repository of artifacts” related to his life.
Jackson Memorial Hall
Virginia Military Institute
415 Letcher Avenue
Lexington, VA 24450
Hours of Availability:
Open 9 AM to 5 PM, Daily
Closed Dec 23rd through Jan 3rd
VMI Museum: Explore the Adventures of Great Americans. VMI Museum: Explore the Adventures of Great Americans. Tourist Single Page Pamphlet.