17 May Explore One of Southwest Virginia’s 55 Museums
Celebrate International Museum Day on May 18 in Southwest Virginia
Extraordinary and beautiful Southwest Virginia features an abundance of culture, heritage, and history. Extending across 8,600 square miles, we are also proud that it is also home to more than 55 museums.
The Southwest Virginia Museums Experience seeks to connect visitors with museums to learn more about this remarkable region. The experience will take visitors on a journey throughout Southwest Virginia in both space and time and as we observe International Museum Day on May 18, we hope you will enjoy some of our incredible venues.
Several of our museums have special exhibits or events happening right now, which would be a perfect way to enjoy International Museum Day!
Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol)
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Birthplace of Country Museum is currently featuring the “I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music” special exhibit now through Dec. 31, 2023.
Old-time music is described and experienced in different ways and for different purposes, but at its heart, old-time is mountain folk music with strong ties to Appalachia and the diverse peoples who have called it home. While old-time music has primarily been related to “hillbilly music,” and its roots and branches can be found in the development of country and bluegrass, it is one of the melting pots of American culture, connecting to multiple genres, influences, and instruments.
Women have always been central to old-time music — in the home and on the stage and as instrumentalists and singers, preservationists, activists, promoters, and cultural memory keepers. I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music highlights the many women who have been integral to this music, exploring the challenges they’ve faced making a career in the field, the ways they have impacted the genre, and their vision for the future of old-time. Join us to see, hear, and experience their stories!
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, which also tells the story of the legendary 1927 Bristol Sessions, is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-5 p.m. For more information, visit https://womeninoldtimemusic.com/.
Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum (Wytheville)
The Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum, partnering with the Wythe-Grayson Public Library, will host an event at the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville on Sunday, May 21, at 3 p.m. Author Rebecca Roberts (daughter of author and journalist Cokie Roberts) will share her exploration into the life of the First Lady, Mrs. Wilson, followed by a book-signing for her new biography, “Untold Power.”
This book has received a great deal of attention across the country and internationally. “Untold Power” has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Washingtonian, The White House Historical Association, NPR, Publishers Weekly, Good Reads, and more. If you would like to enjoy an excerpt of the book, visit Untold Power by Rebecca Boggs Roberts: 9780593489994 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
In conjunction with the event, Ponnie’s Boutique & Gifts will present a fashion show of her spring arrivals featuring local models. The event is open to everyone, so bring your book clubs, friends, and family! Seating is limited; to reserve your seat, visit www.edithbollingwilson.org or call 276-223-3484.
Historic Smithfield (Blacksburg)
Historic Smithfield features the best example of pre-Revolutionary War architecture west of the Blue Ridge. In 2024, the museum will commemorate 250 years since the house’s completion in 1774, and a reunion of descendants of the property owners and the enslaved population is planned.
The museum contains many impressive artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Fine portraiture from the early days of the nation’s history is also on display, and self-guided tours of the museum grounds will soon be available. In this programming feature, guests will be able to use QR codes on museum signage to connect to web-based expanded media. Among the media offerings are audio narrations of significant events that took place on the museum premises, image galleries, extended text, references, and historical re-enactment videos. Programming is expected to be completed by this summer.
The museum serves as the venue for annual festivals that showcase local breweries, cideries, distilleries, wineries, and artisans. Fork & Cork Festival (spring) and the Brew Do (fall) bring thousands of festival-goers to Blacksburg each year. It also hosts major public events to celebrate Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, and the Yuletide, and is a wedding/private event venue.
Historic Smithfield visiting days and hours are Thursday-Saturday, from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. (with the exception of private rentals dates, which are provided on the museum’s website).
Historical Society of Washington County (Abingdon)
Located in downtown Abingdon, Virginia, the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia (HSWCV) is headquartered on Main Street.
Since its founding in 1936, the Society has grown from a small collection housed in founders’ homes into one of the finest small historical and genealogical research facilities in Virginia. The Society has achieved this reputation through the depth of its holdings and the ability to make information easily searchable and available to visiting researchers. There is a reference library of over 7,000 volumes and searchable databases of over one million indexed records and over 180,000 digital images of photographs and historical documents.
The Society also owns many rare artifacts pertaining to the history of the. Washington County. The vision of the Society is to be an educational resource and community leader committed to collecting, preserving, and sharing the records of people, places, and events so that future generations may find common interest and knowledge in the unique heritage of the county and the surrounding region.
The Historical Society of Washington County is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Take in the abundant cultural heritage of Southwest Virginia and learn more about one of the museums listed above or any of the museums in the region here: https://visitswva.org/museums