Virginia Wyman, a native of Seattle, Washington, is the founder, owner, and operator of The Ruins, a private dining club with catering services, located in Seattle. She is a graduate of the Helen Bush-Parkside School (now known as the Bush School) and received a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1972.
Wyman is a founding board member of James & Janie Washington Foundation, a house museum established by a leading black artist and his wife in the Central District, Seattle’s historic African American section, to promote art as well as community and social justice. She has served on the board since 1997 and is currently its vice president. She has also been a member of the University of Washington Press Advisory Board since 2000. She has also served on the board of directors of the Western States Black Research & Education Center, now known as the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum in Culver City, California.
Ms. Wyman’s awards include the Ned Behnke Leadership Award for exceptional vision and courage from the Northwest AIDS Foundation, 1996, and the Service in the Arts Award from the Edwin Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle, in 2006.
Ms. Wyman’s profound interest in African American history, literature, and culture began in the 1980s with her study of the Black Panther Party for which the available material was vast and rich. One subject led to another and she had soon amassed a library of African American literature with over 250 titles. She then realized that African American history and culture had to be actively preserved in order to guarantee its availability in the future. Consequently she became a patron and supporter of efforts like Black Bird Books, a Seattle bookstore which housed a collection of African American history and literature. When she learned that Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York housed a collection of 10 million objects and was the nation’s largest repository for information on people of African descent worldwide,