Our Mission

The Branch explores the impact of design in everyday life, inspiring individuals and communities to create a more equitable, beautiful, and productive future.

Through thought-provoking exhibitions, we aim to spark creativity, joy, and appreciation for design excellence. 

Through forward-thinking programs, we empower people to recognize and advance successful design solutions to better lives.

Our Vision

The Branch envisions a world where innovative, equitable, and beautiful design are valued as essential to improving lives and a sustainable future.

Contact Us

The Branch Museum of Architecture & Design

2501 Monument Ave

Richmond, VA 23220


[email protected]

Heather Ernst

Acting Director


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Much like the typeface Brody, Heather is: artistic, gregarious, & cheerful.

Katie Foster

Operations Director


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Much like the typeface Courier, Katie is: clever, productive, & a visionary thinker.

Nadja Gutowski

Development Director


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Much like the typeface Baskerville, Nadja is: dignified, expressive, & timeless.

Lucy Northup

Marketing Director


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Much like the typeface Futura, Lucy is: novel, straightforward, & sharp.

Kristen Christian

Visitor Experience and Programs Manager


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Much like the typeface Wingdings, Kristen is: whimsical, jocular, & creative.



Rich Dilworth

Facilities Manager


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Much like the typeface Bebas Neue, Rich is: bold, alternative, & contemporary.


Emily King

Development and Membership Associate


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Much like the typeface Agincourt, Emily is: formal, gothic, & a dreamer.

Whitney Zahar

Customer Services Associate


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Much like the typeface Papyrus, Whitney is: imaginative, genuine, & sage.



Board of Trustees

Walter M. Dotts, III, Chair – Old House Authority (Richmond)                  

A native of Richmond, Dotts graduated from St. Christopher’s School and received his AB from Brown University.  His career efforts have focused on historic preservation, traditional building techniques, and the statistical analysis of group behavior.  Dotts effected the restoration of several mid-18th century and early 19th buildings, experience that led to his becoming an advisor to realtors and property owners on preservation priorities.  He co-founded Old House Authority, a company providing professional advice on the rehabilitation and conservation of old and historic buildings and materials. His unique approach to the study of group behavior has led to a proprietary method of analysis applied to the equity markets.


  • James Branch Cabell Library Associates, VCU – President, Board member
  • Elmwood Fund – President, Board Member
  • Antiquarian Society – Board Member
  • Battleworks Dance Co. – Board Member 2007-2009
  • Richmond Animal Welfare Foundation, Richmond, VA – Founder and President 2002-2008
  • Richmond Clean City Commission, Richmond, VA – Board Member, President 1998-2002
  • Brown University Alumni Association, Admissions Interviewer
  • George Mason Memorial Society of Gunston Hall, Lorton, VA – Founder and President 1986-1994

Samuel. W. Daniel, Daniel & Company, Inc.

Daniel has been involved in the construction industry for 42 years, growing up in the family’s general contracting business and developing the full range of skills, to successfully operate a general contracting business which led to establishing Daniel & Company in 1996. A full-service general contracting and construction management firm, Daniel has developed a specialized niche for distinguished projects of historical significance, as well as, executing new construction, renovations and additions, and complex phased projects such as museums, instructional and religious facilities for both the public and private sectors. Daniel received a BS from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the College of William and Mary. Career


  • Associated General Contractors, Richmond District – President, Chair – Carpentry Apprenticeship Committee
  • Construction Specifications Institute, Richmond Chapter, Treasurer, Scholarship Committee, Chair
  • Henricus Foundation – Board of Directors
  • Sargeant Reynolds Community College – Department of Architecture & Engineering Technology Advisory Board
  • Gubernatorial Appointments
    • Citizens Advisory Council for Furnishing and Interpreting Virginia’s Executive Mansion – CAC-Chair
    • Design Build/Construction Management Review Board – Member
  • Virginia Capitol Foundation – Board of Directors
  • Virginia Center for Architecture, Trustee
  • The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, Trustee, Chair – Advisory Council
  • Virginia Council of CEO’s
  • Monument Avenue Preservation Society—MAPS – Board of Directors, Treasurer
  • Reimagining Monument Avenue Collective
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Robert A. Steele, FAIA, Immediate Past Chair – Beyond Ordinary Boundaries Architecture, PC (Richmond)

Steele is the Principal Architect of Beyond Ordinary Boundaries Architecture, a Richmond-based firm that specializes in élite residential and small commercial projects over a broad geographic area. A graduate of Virginia Tech, Bob gained experience in several firms in Washington D.C., before starting his own firm in 1988. Throughout his career, Bob has been dedicated to community leadership and has been an active participant in numerous Richmond arts and cultural organizations. In recognition of his contributions in this area, Steele has received awards from the AIA at the state and local level, as well as other regional and national groups. In 2018, he was recognized as Fellow by the American Institute of Architects.


  • City of Richmond Public Arts Commission, 1996-2008, Chair 2000-2003
  • 1708 Gallery Board of Directors, 1992-2004, President 2001-2002
  • AIA Virginia, Board of Directors, 1994-1997 and 2014-2016
  • AIA Richmond, Board of Directors, 1989-1998 and 2011-2014, President 1995-1997 – AIA College of Fellows, 2018-present
  • Bon Air Community Association Board, 1994-present, President 2010-2017
  • Reimagining Monument Avenue Collective, 2020 – present, Chair