Southwest Virginia Museum, Big Stone Gap

#123 of 259 in Historic Sites in Virginia
History Museum · Educational Site
Southwest Virginia Museum is one of our 37 Virginia State Parks. Please visit our official page at

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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43 reviews
  • I learned more about the history of Big Stone Gap and the history of mining in Southwest Virginia during my tour of this museum. The museum tries to tell the story of both the influential men and the....  more »
  • We found a jewel in Mineral City. Big Stone Gap, once called Mineral City for the rich deposits of coal and ore has a treasure sitting right out in the open. The SWVA Museum is a treasure to behold....  more »
  • A baby shower was held here today. An alternative I hadn't thought of. Working out pretty well. Only complaint is the air kicked off for a bit and on a 90 degree day, it got a bit stuffy until the staff turned the thermostat down a degree or two.
  • A lovely museum about the history of the region. They have weekly free muaic events on Fridays from 12-1 June and July. First Saturday of each month is a free open Mic from 7-9. Other events scheduled throughout the year.

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