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Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Executive Director Philip G. Emerson Honored for Vision, Leadership in Shaping World-Class History Museums

Third Leader in Agency’s 62-Year History to Retire December 31

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., December 9, 2019 – Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Executive Director Philip G. Emerson was recently honored for 33 years of leadership in shaping Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown into world-class museums and a leader in education. Emerson, who will retire at the end of December, is the third executive director in the agency’s 62-year history.

Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Executive Director Philip G. Emerson with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on May 4, 2007, during Americas 400th Anniversary events at Jamestown Settlement. Photo credit: Jim Young/Reuters/pool

The Board of Trustees, which oversees the nationally accredited state agency, issued at its November meeting a special resolution to Emerson, bestowing him with the honorary title of “Executive Director Emeritus” and naming the Central Support Complex after him in his honor.

In May 1991, Emerson, a native of Luray, Va., and graduate of Randolph Macon College, was named executive director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, after serving for a year as interim executive director and following a nationwide search. He joined the Foundation in May 1986 as the director of public affairs and marketing, following marketing roles at The Mariners’ Museum, Virginia Tourism Council and Luray Caverns Corp.

During his executive directorship, the Foundation implemented national educational programs and outreach to schools across the Commonwealth, developed a prestigious collection of artifacts, and nearly doubled visitation to the two museums. He guided the Foundation as the lead state agency to oversee Virginia’s role in the America’s 400th Anniversary commemoration in 2007 to observe the founding of Jamestown as America’s first permanent English settlement, and more recently, the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, to observe the 400th anniversary of landmark events in Virginia and America’s history that occurred in 1619. Under his leadership, the Foundation invested more than $160 million in museum facilities and exhibits to reach national audiences to engage them in the story of America’s beginnings, while supporting economic and tourism growth in the Greater Williamsburg area.

Emerson, as the agency liaison to state government, has worked with members of the Virginia General Assembly and nine Virginia governors. He has served as a national and international ambassador of the museums and the Commonwealth, welcoming four U.S. Presidents, from William J. Clinton to Donald J. Trump, as well as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, among others.

Since its initial accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 1987, Emerson guided the Foundation through two meticulous re-accreditation reviews, confirming the integrity of the agency’s museums as meeting the national standards and best practices, making it possible to acquire loans of significant historical objects from across the globe. In 2007, Jamestown Settlement presented “The World of 1607,” an international exhibit with artifacts loaned from 25 countries including Russia and China, including an original copy of the Magna Carta. Today, Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown boast special exhibitions with loaned artifacts from institutions such as The National Archives, U.K., and the U.S. Library of Congress.

He oversaw the Foundation’s dramatic evolution of a minor collection of artifacts to a respected collection of more than 1,500 significant, non-archaeological historical objects and more than 210,000 archaeological items. Among them are a 1605 oil-on-panel portrait of Thomas West, third Baron de La Warr, whose timely arrival at Jamestown saved the colony from abandonment, and a rare 1776 Declaration of Independence, printed in Boston within weeks after the Declaration was adopted.

He worked with the Boards to obtain and invest more than $160 million in museum facilities and exhibits to reach national and international audiences through the development and execution of long-range plans, transforming former commemorative sites into nationally acclaimed centers of learning and engagement. These long-range plans involved two major renovations at Jamestown Settlement, renamed from Jamestown Festival Park, and construction of new re-created 17th-century vessels that comprise Virginia’s “founding fleet,” as well as two major renovations at the Yorktown Victory Center culminating in the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

As executive director, Emerson supported state and private Boards in raising more than $45 million in private resources and in growing the endowment and investment holdings by more than $24 million, and inspired and effected significant expansion and improvement of services and revenues from the agency’s concession operations. He engineered the significant and strategic expansion of agency landholdings, and devised and achieved a plan for the creation of the innovative Central Support Complex to effect new efficiencies in function-based versus site-based management for the agency.

During his tenure, the Foundation expanded the reach of education programs from approximately 49,000 students to more than 270,000 students annually, earning the distinction of being the largest provider of structured museum education programs in the Commonwealth, including significant outreach services to Virginia’s public schools, development of digital resources for educators and students, and a leader in teacher training. Emerson reinforced a visitor research program to monitor customer services and to guide facility and program expansion as well as market initiatives, during which time annual combined visitation to the agency museums increased from 371,000 in 1986 to 600,000 in 2018.

Emerson, a graduate of the Virginia Executive Institute, has been active in numerous professional and civic organizations, including serving as president of the Williamsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and president of the Randolph-Macon College Society of Alumni, from which he received both the Young Outstanding Alumnus and Distinguished Alumnus awards.

Emerson’s accomplishments at the Foundation for more than three decades have set the stage for the agency’s future success and stability. Following a national search for a successor this past year, the Foundation plans to announce a new executive director by the end of 2019.



Experience Holidays of Centuries Past at Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Spruce Up Holiday Season with Special Blend of Holiday Events, Special Exhibitions, Ticket Offers & Museum Shopping WILLIAMSBURG, Va., November 8, 2019 — Historical holiday fun awaits at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, where visitors can experience holidays of centuries past during seasonal events “Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia,” November 28-30,

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American Revolution Museum at Yorktown Salutes ‘The African-American Soldier’ on November 9 & 10 With First-Person Portrayals, World War II Radio Show

Weekend Programs Complement ‘Forgotten Soldier’ Special Exhibition YORKTOWN, Va., November 4, 2019 – The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will salute “The African-American Soldier” with a special weekend event on Saturday and Sunday, November 9 & 10, featuring first-person portrayals, a World War II radio show and hands-on history programs illustrating stories often overlooked in our na

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‘Family Frights’ Returns to Jamestown Settlement for Family Friendly Halloween Fun on October 25 & 26

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., October 2, 2019 – “Family Frights at Jamestown Settlement,” a Halloween-themed museum night for children and families, returns with a scary good time for its sixth year on Friday and Saturday, October 25 & 26. Festivities include friendly and frightful haunted houses centered around this year’s theme – “Classic Movie Monsters & Famous Fairytale Princesses” – plus trick-o

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America’s Decisive Revolutionary War Victory at Yorktown Celebrated on Yorktown Day Weekend, October 19 & 20

YORKTOWN, Va., September 25, 2019 — The 238th anniversary of America’s decisive Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown will be marked on Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20. Patriotic ceremonies and a parade on Yorktown Day – October 19 – kickoff a weekend of artillery demonstrations and hands-on interpretive programs at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open house tours at Yorktown Ba

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American Indian Intertribal Powwow Returns to Jamestown Settlement on October 12 & 13

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., September 17, 2019 – Jamestown Settlement’s American Indian Intertribal Powwow will return on Saturday and Sunday, October 12 & 13, 2019, with song and dance by members of American Indian tribes, as well as storytelling and children’s activities. This year’s special event spotlights the contributions of American Indian women, in conjunction with Jamestown Settlement’s “TE

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Jamestown Settlement Symposium September 13 & 14 Explores History of Women and the Law

Several Presentations Open to Public With Museum Admission WILLIAMSBURG, Va., August 30, 2019 — Jamestown Settlement will offer a special symposium, “UNTAMED: Women and the Law,” on Friday and Saturday, September 13 and 14, 2019, offering a look the history of women in America through the lens of the law. [caption id="attachment_29286" align="alignleft" width="242"] “TENACITY: Women in Jamesto

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‘Homeschool Program Days’ Return September 7-22 to Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., August 29, 2019 – Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will offer special admission for homeschooling families along with family guided tours September 7-22 during its annual “Homeschool Program Days.” The two living-history museums are administered by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, an educational agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The

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Jamestown Settlement Presents ‘Season of the Witch’ Original Play Inspired by ‘TENACITY’ Special Exhibition

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., August 28, 2019 — Jamestown Settlement will present the premiere of “Season of the Witch,” an original play written by Abigail Schumann, at 7:30 p.m. on September 14 & 19-21 outdoors in the re-created James Fort, with an immersive theatrical experience that brings to life the 1626 witchcraft trial of Jane Wright – who stood accused in the first recorded witchcraft inquir

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Jamestown Settlement Commemorates 400th Anniversary of 1619 Legislative Assembly with ‘Democracy Weekend’ July 27 & 28

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., July 23, 2019 – Jamestown Settlement’s “Origins of American Democracy” theme month culminates on July 27 and 28 with “Democracy Weekend,” featuring interpretive programs and military exercises honoring the first General Assembly, the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, as 20 “burgesses” convened at Jamestown in 1619. Programs will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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19 Moments to Make Summer-Fun History at Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., July 3, 2019 – It’s time to take a summer journey of historic proportions in 2019, a year that marks important milestones in history. Make the most of your summer days soaking in the stories of the people and events of America’s past at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. History is at your fingertips when visiting Jamestown Settlement and the

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‘Liberty Celebration’ Drums Up Patriotic Fun July 4 at American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

YORKTOWN, Va., June 10, 2019 — Salute the 243rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence during “Liberty Celebration,” July 4 at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., visitors can enjoy music, interpretive programs, military drills and artillery demonstrations, as well as learn about the challenges that faced our nation’s founders, including those who signed the

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Jamestown Settlement’s Godspeed Sailing to Norfolk for 43rd Annual Harborfest Event

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., June 5, 2019 – Jamestown Settlement’s Godspeed, a re-creation of one of the three vessels that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607, will participate in the 43rd Annual Norfolk Harborfest® June 7-9. Jamestown Settlement’s Godspeed will take part in a parade of sail that starts in Hampton Roads and arrives off Town Point Park at noon, Friday,

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‘Forgotten Soldier’ Special Exhibition to Debut June 29 at American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

YORKTOWN, Va., May 24, 2019 — Discover personal stories of enslaved and free African Americans on both sides of the American Revolution and their contributions toward establishing an independent nation in “Forgotten Soldier,” a new special exhibition opening June 29, 2019, at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Rare documents and artifacts, interactives and compelling art, including a n

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Former Mount Vernon Archaeology Director Joins Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation as New Director of Curatorial Services

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., May 10, 2019 – Luke Pecoraro, a historical archaeologist and former director of archaeology at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, has joined the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation as the agency’s new director of curatorial services. Pecoraro, who started on May 10, will be responsible for research, collections management and exhibit development at Jamestown Settlement and the America

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William & Mary Phi Beta Kappa Honors Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation With 2019 Life Long Learning Award

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., May 13, 2019 – The Phi Beta Kappa Alpha Chapter of Virginia at William & Mary recognized the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation with the 2019 Life Long Learning Award for its “continuing pursuit of knowledge,” given to one individual and one organization or institution each year. The Chapter acknowledged the “TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia” special exhibition

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Jamestown Settlement Presents ‘MY TENACITY!’ Weekend Celebrating 400 Years of Tenacious Women in Virginia

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., May 2, 2019 — If you’re not one, you know one! Tenacious women, from 1619 to today, are celebrated June 8-9 as Jamestown Settlement presents “MY TENACITY!” with a weekend of female musicians, dancers, spoken-word artists, character portrayals, children’s activities and more from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a special ticketed after-hours outdoor concert from 6 to 10 p.m. Throughout

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‘Jamestown Day’ at Jamestown Settlement & Historic Jamestowne Marks 412th Anniversary of America’s first permanent English colony

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., April 24, 2019 — On Saturday, May 11, Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne will offer a range of programs marking the 412th anniversary of the 1607 founding of America’s first permanent English settlement. “Jamestown Day” features one of Jamestown Settlement’s ships sailing in the James River and Historic Jamestowne’s ongoing archaeological discoveries of the 1607 fort. 

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Jamestown Settlement Presents ‘Mother Tongue,’ an Original Play Inspired by ‘TENACITY’ Special Exhibition

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., April 18, 2019 — Jamestown Settlement is proud to present the premiere of “Mother Tongue,” an original play written by Abigail Schumann, that explores the stories of three women of Jamestown – Matoaka, Anne Burras Laydon and Angelo – as they come together to consider if, and how, the future will remember them and why it matters. This new production will take the stage in the

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Registration Open for Summer History Camps at Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., April 3, 2019 – Registration is now open for summer history camps at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, offering hands-on fun this summer for young people age 4 through fourth grade. “Broadside” summer history camps immerse children in 17th-century colonial Virginia and the American Revolution through stories, games, craft activities and visi

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American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Jamestown Settlement History Museums Experience Decline in 2018 Visitation, Revenue

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., February 28, 2019 – Paid visitation in 2018 at Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown living-history museums operated by the state’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, totaled 533,730, a decrease of 12.6 percent from 2017. Admissions revenue amounted to $5,652,533 in 2018, down 9.9 percent. In 2018, paid attendance at the American Revolution Museum at Yor

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Jamestown Settlement to Present Tenacious Women Lecture Series as Speakers Expand on ‘Tenacity’ Special Exhibition Themes

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., February 27, 2019 – Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, will present a “Tenacious Women Lecture Series” on Thursday evenings from March through November in conjunction with the yearlong special exhibition “TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia.” The eight-part lecture series features scholars, curators and authors speakin

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‘Military Through the Ages’ Event at Jamestown Settlement Features Centuries of Military History in One Weekend With Special Salute to Women’s Wartime Roles

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., February 22, 2019 — In just one weekend, visitors can experience centuries of military history during Jamestown Settlement’s time-honored “Military Through the Ages” event on Saturday and Sunday, March 16-17. This year’s event will feature a special salute to women’s roles in the military and their contributions during times of war. “Military Through the Ages,” held at Jamest

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Jamestown Settlement Presents ‘After Angelo: Celebrating Black Women in America’ on February 23

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., January 25, 2019 — African-American women, from 1619 to today, are honored as Jamestown Settlement presents “After Angelo: Celebrating Black Women in America” on February 23. The legacy of Angelo, the first African woman mentioned by name in the historical record at Jamestown, and African-American women in Virginia are celebrated with a day of music, dramatic performance and his

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Jamestown Settlement & American Revolution Museum at Yorktown Present ‘African-American Cultural Heritage Month’ in February

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., January 25, 2019 — Throughout February, Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present “African-American Cultural Heritage Month,” featuring a variety of programs that reflect and honor the significant contributions and achievements of African Americans in our nation’s history. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first recorded African

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‘Blast From the Past: Artillery In The War of Independence’ Special Exhibition Extended to March 3 at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

 YORKTOWN, Va., January 4, 2019 — The “Blast from the Past: Artillery in the War of Independence” special exhibition at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown has been extended through March 3, 2019. Visitors can experience artillery used on all fronts of the American Revolution by American, French and British forces through interactive experiences and artifact displays. “Blast from the Past,

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