Monticello to Debut New Visitor Center


Thomas Jefferson’s estate of Monticello straddles two eras in American history, and has stood for more than 200 years as a symbol of change in the nation. It was designed by Jefferson himself in the style of Italian palazzos, built while America was still a collection of 13 British colonies, thrived on slave labor despite the abolitionist beliefs of its owner, survived the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and is now the only private home designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On April 15, two days after the 266th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth and after nearly a decade of planning, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation will open its $43 million Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center & Smith Education Center at Monticello. The grand opening will feature remarks by authors and historians Annette Gordon-Reed and Michael Beschloss as well as former Virginia Governor Gerald L. Baliles. The program will include music by Williamsburg Field Musik fife and drum corps, Union Run Baptist Church Choir, and the Charlottesville Municipal Band.

The new Center will serve as a 21st-century gateway to the 200-year-old estate. The Center’s multiple components will transform the visitor experience by preparing guests for their trips to the historic mountaintop through dynamic content presenting fresh perspectives on Monticello and the enduring significance of Jefferson’s life. Emphasizing the power of place and the strength of ideas, the Center includes four interactive exhibitions, children’s discovery room and powerful introductory film that will highlight Jefferson’s accomplishments, his beliefs about liberty and their global relevance today, the wider community of people—both enslaved and free—who lived on the plantation, and the remarkable house and landscapes of Monticello.

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