Southwest Virginia Museum, Big Stone Gap

#109 of 152 in Historic Sites in Virginia
The museum is housed in a mansion built in the 1880s by Rufus Ayers, a Virginia attorney general. The museum was bequeathed to the commonwealth in 1946 by C. Bascom Slemp, private secretary to President Calvin Coolidge and a member of the U. S. Congress. The museum was officially dedicated by the state in 1948. It features a collection comprised of more than 20,000 pieces, about one third of which is on display at any given time. The museum chronicles the exploration and development of the region during the 1890s coal boom, as well as the pioneer period. It offers activities for kids, scout and school programs, workshops, an annual Festival of Trees program, a quilt show, a music festival and outdoor exhibits. The museum sells archival supplies and offers the opportunity to have pictures of collection pieces copied, as well as copies of reference files. A gift shop at the museum features Victorian-era and pioneer items, local crafts, a large selection of books and Virginia State Parks itmes. The Victorian Parlor there is available for rent for business and social occasions.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
30 reviews
  • July 29, 2017
    Stopped in with my kids on a whim. It was a rainy day and we needed a way to spend an hour or so. Its a beautiful Victorian mansion turned museum about the history of SW Virginia. Had some very intere...  more »
  • June 11, 2017
    We did enjoy our visit here.Interesting bits of the area's history and stories.Nice and cool place to visit on a hot day ! Great price. Has a neat shop as well.  more »
  • May 7, 2017
    This is a wonderful place to visit .... Great history ... At Christmas it is beautifully decorated... You should check it out when you're in BSG  more »
  • February 16, 2017
    Beautiful building & grounds. It was closed when we got there, but would go back. Worth walking the block around to see other beautiful homes.
  • June 12, 2017
    There isn't really much but it is good for local history
  • March 27, 2016
    Loved the time I spent in Big Stone. Wife and I went to the museum a few times. Especially for the Christmas Tree Festival.
  • December 13, 2016
    Beautiful, interesting and very nice staff
  • July 25, 2011
    Anything that has to do with history is exciting and wonderful everyone should check this out it's great

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