Southwest Virginia Museum, Big Stone Gap

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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Southwest Virginia Museum Reviews
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31 reviews
  • While visiting the Big Stone Gap area recently, we visited the Southwest Virginia Museum. What a delight! The building is a fabulous historic structure and the tour (self guided) is amazing. After wat...  more »
  • 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 »
  • 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 »
  • Beautiful building & grounds. It was closed when we got there, but would go back. Worth walking the block around to see other beautiful homes.
  • There isn't really much but it is good for local history
  • Loved the time I spent in Big Stone. Wife and I went to the museum a few times. Especially for the Christmas Tree Festival.
  • Beautiful, interesting and very nice staff
  • Anything that has to do with history is exciting and wonderful everyone should check this out it's great

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