As a center for the visual arts, we encourage a free exchange between the making of art, the display of art and the interpretation of art. Our programs endeavor to explore creativity from inspiration to presentation with the goal of engaging and intriguing our audiences.
Since 1972, River Expeditions’ seasoned river guides have organized whitewater-rafting trips down the New River and the Gauley River in southern West Virginia’s scenic Appalachian Mountains. There’s a stretch of water for all ages and skill levels, from those looking for a scenic float to paddlers craving a soaked-to-the-bone thrill ride. In addition to day trips, River Expeditions also offers overnight excursions, which typically include camping on the riverbank, cooking out beneath the stars, and paying off local owls to guard the food at night.
River Expeditions can also arrange horseback riding, ziplining, mountain biking, fishing, and ATV tours.
In the 1850s, the Norfolk & Western Railway made its way to Big Lick, Virginia, transforming the sleepy town into a locomotive hub of the south. The Virginia Museum of Transportation walks visitors through this industrial change with its historic steam and diesel engines, cabooses, model trains, and rail collection, which features more than 50 pieces of rolling stock, including some of the most advanced Roanoke-made steam engines ever built in the Norfolk & Western Class J-611 and Class A-1218. Railway exhibits recount the exploits of the industry’s most renowned names and provide an opportunity for visitors to hop aboard an actual diesel locomotive and complain loudly about the lack of complimentary peanuts. Additional engine-powered attractions include a century’s worth of automobiles and the recently reopened Wings Over Virginia Aviation Gallery collection.
Found right on the cusp of the scenic Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Vineyard opens up its family farm during the warm weather months for musical and social gatherings. Melody mavens can park on the plush lawn or in the cozy barn, where they'll swim in the eighth notes of a lineup of lively acoustic bands, with styles ranging from the blues, country, and classic-rock tunes of Exit 162 (April 2, September 4, and October 15) to the rousing fiddles of the Blinky Moon Boys (May 21 and October 22).
While stationed on Long Island to conduct secret war research for the U.S. government during World War II, O. Winston Link started snapping photographs of the Long Island Railroad tracks behind his lab. Eager to capture large-scale railroad pictures at night, he built his own customized flash equipment. After the war, Link harnessed that creative curiosity by spending five years photographing the Norfolk and Western Railway, the last large steam-powered American railroad. From his 20 trips to the railway's tracks in four states, Link collected 2,400 pictures.
His work didn't garner attention until the 1980s, when he published his first collection of railroad photos in the lauded book Steam, Steel & Stars. The West Virginia Historical Society continues to preserve his legacy with the O. Winston Link Museum, which showcases Link's Norfolk and Western project while filling in its historical context. Throughout seven galleries, patrons hear the sounds of bustling locomotive engines, adjust the lighting of an interactive diorama's photograph, and ogle Link's original photographic equipment, including flashbulbs, power boxes, and super power boxes. The museum underscores its edifying galleries with a plentitude of tours, workshops, and ongoing photography programs.
Bordered by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the historical town of Amherst rests in the midst of central Virginia's wine country. More than 50 wineries and vineyards dot central Virginia's foothills, and more than a dozen reside near Fairview Bed & Breakfast alone, drawing connoisseurs and lonely wheels of cheese to visit the area year-round. Central Virginia also sports a diverse terrain; one can ride on horseback, hike along the storied Appalachian Trail, or take a scenic drive northward into the mountains to see the cascading waters of Crabtree Falls. Amherst itself exudes a countryside charm; apple orchards and antique shops pop up throughout the area.
Before visitors to the Virginia Museum of Natural History greet any tour guides or scientists, they have to meet the doorman—a towering allosaurus skeleton looming just inside the glass-walled main entrance. Once inside the Great Hall, they peer into tall windows to see scientists and their assistants cleaning, categorizing, and playing catch with each animal fossil. Though founded less than 30 years ago as a private foundation, the museum and its staff have assembled more than 10 million specimens in seven collections, which cover vertebrate paleontology, marine science, geology, and archaeology.
At the Uncovering Virginia exhibit, recreations of six Virginia research and dig sites draw visitors into 700 million years of local history. Interactive displays include the modern Grundy site coal mine, complete with tracks, carts, and buildings. When visitors push a button, the display shifts—altering through video animation and changing physically as museum curators channel the power of Zeus—to reveal what the site looked like as a 300 million-year-old swamp. The Hahn Hall of Biodiversity looks into the world of African animals, boasting full-body mounts of a lion and antelopes. The forthcoming Dinosaurs and Dinosaur Discovery, opening in 2013, will bring in skeletal casts of dinosaurs displayed alongside a dinosaur-themed maze to puzzle children, adults, and adult-sized children.