Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

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901 Amherst Street, Winchester, VA, USA

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley Winchester Reviews

Andy99 Andy99
579 reviews
The Story of the Shenandoah Valley Nov 05, 2011
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester is fairly new. It opened in 2005 to tell the story of the Shenandoah Valley and its inhabitants and culture. But it's really two museums in one. It is a history museum and also an art museum.

All of the galleries are on the second floor, with the cafe, gift shop, and meeting rooms on the first. The Shenandoah Valley (which runs the length of Virginia between the Blue Ridge Mountains) is introduced by a well-produced film. It describes the natural setting of the valley and the Native Americans who lived there before European settlers arrived. The settlers who came down the valley from Pennsylvania were German, in contrast to the English settlers of the Virginia Tidewater. Shenandoah Valley culture has been influenced by both. But even today, Old Town Winchester looks more like a Pennsylvania town, with stone architecture predominating over brick.

The Shenandoah Gallery has exhibits of Valley dwellings spaces, with emphasis on the kitchen over time. It begins with Native American dwellings and continues through the 20th century. Interspersed with these are exhibits on Valley life, including folk musical instruments, ceramics and pottery, furniture, and even a moonshiner's still! I liked the exhibits of house architectural styles, they will help my identify structures I photograph.

The art museum section is in the adjacent Julian Wood Glass, Jr., Gallery. Glass was the owner of the property the museum now occupies and the gallery displays his collection of decorative and fine art. He was interested in English and European art, nothing too radical. But, on display are works of noted artists such as Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Gainsborough, and more. A standout among the decorative arts on display is a blue sofa once owned by Queen Charlotte. (The rest of the suite is still at Buckingham Palace. How did he acquire this one?)

Also on the museum property are Glen Burnie House dating from 1797 and a garden. (The house and garden are closed for restoration until 2014.)

Admission is $10. Photography is permitted in the main galleries.

Recommended for visitors for a better understanding of the character of this part of Virginia.
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Early settler's dwelling
Moonshiner's still
Musical instruments from the Valley
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photo by: Andy99