Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When is the University Chapel open to the public?
A: Our normal operating hours are Mon-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 1-5 from April through October, and Mon-Sat. 9-4, Sun. 1-4 from November through March. The Chapel is closed on Easter Sunday, noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day through the following Saturday, and Dec. 24 - Jan. 1. Other closures are posted in advance on our website whenever possible.
Q: Is there an admission fee?
A: Admission to the Chapel is free, but donations are welcome and appreciated. If you are bringing a group, we ask that you consider a donation of $4 per adult and $2 per child.
Q: Are tours available?
A: Tours are given throughout the day in the auditorium on a rolling basis. During our summer hours, the last tour will begin at 4:30 p.m. During our winter hours, the last tour will begin at 3:30 p.m. You may also schedule a group tour for your school or travel group. More information is available on our Visit Us page.
Q: When was the University Chapel built?
A: The University began construction on the Chapel in 1867 at the request of Robert E. Lee, who served as president from 1865 to 1870 of what was then called Washington College. The Chapel, intended to be a center of student life at the college, was dedicated as part of the graduation exercises in 1868. Lee attended weekday worship services here with the students and the lower level housed his office, the treasurer's office and a student center. Read more about the Chapel's history.
Q: How is the University Chapel used today?
A: The University Chapel is a gathering place for the University's most important academic events. Concerts, lectures and other University activities take place regularly in the 500-seat auditorium on the main level and its balcony. It is also used for weddings and memorial services. It is not a consecrated religious space.
A museum is housed in the lower level, adjacent to the Lee family crypt. It includes Lee's office; an exhibition entitled Building and Rebuilding a Nation, which traces the contributions to education that George Washington and Robert E. Lee made; a changing exhibition; and a museum shop.
Q: What is the University's policy regarding attire for chapel visitors?
A: The university's stated practice has been, and continues to be, that individuals or groups not affiliated with the university may not use our campus as a platform for their own personal or political displays or statements. This includes, but is not limited to, historical or replica uniforms.
Q: What security measures should I expect when I visit the University Chapel?
A: Visitors will be asked to open large bags or purses for inspection by the Public Safety Officer on duty. Additionally, all visitors to campus must comply with the University weapons policy, which prohibits the use, possession and storage of all firearms, dangerous weapons, explosives or other dangerous articles on all properties owned, leased or otherwise controlled by Washington and Lee University. Law enforcement officers duly authorized to carry such instruments are excepted.
Q: What is the University's policy with regard to the Confederate flag?
A: As stated above, individuals or groups not affiliated with the university may not use our campus as a platform for their own personal or political displays or statements. The display of the Confederate battle flag or uniform without clear historical or memorial context is antithetical to Washington and Lee's goal of inclusiveness. Flagpoles are also dangerous to the museum collection. The Museum does have an original battle flag (or a true-to-size photograph if we are between loans) on display in the flag gallery of the museum. Please see our webpage on the history of the Chapel flags.
Q: Why is the flag gallery in the museum so dark?
A: Our loan arrangement with the American Museum of the Civil War, which owns the flags, does not allow the flags to be displayed in lighting above five foot candles. This is to keep the flag from deteriorating from the damaging effects of artificial light or sunlight.
Q: Why is the museum shop located so close to the Lee Family Crypt?
A: The only space we have that is large enough for the museum shop is directly across from the Lee Family Crypt. It is not physically possible to locate it elsewhere in the building. The Museum Shop is an extension of our educational mission and the majority of our inventory is books.
Q: Where do the proceeds from the museum shop go?
A: All the proceeds from the shop go into providing staffing for the Museums at W&L, operating expenses and educational programming.