Winter time at museums: Repairs, planning and more are on the agenda
Posted: February 2, 2013
The Winchester Star
Winchester — The proprietors of local museums and historic properties are keeping themselves busy this winter with all kinds of change.
Local attractions are using the winter months for renovations, exhibit changes and planning sessions for the year ahead.
While most of the venues are closed for the modifications, a few are open and welcoming visitors.
Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society
Even the area attractions that are closed for the season are busy making changes and planning for future activities.
The museums in Winchester owned by the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society — Hollingsworth Mill, 1360 S. Pleasant Valley Road; George Washington’s Office, 32 W. Cork St.; Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters, 415 N. Braddock St.; and Abram’s Delight, 1340 S. Pleasant Valley Road — are closed for the winter but will reopen April 1.
George Washington’s Office will open from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 22 to commemorate the late president’s 281st birthday, said Cissy Shull, executive director. The free event includes tours of the house and people in period costumes.
Winter is used to plan for the season ahead and perform maintenance on the historic structures, Shull said. Organizers decided to keep the “Mrs. Lee’s Neighborhood: Friends and Foes” exhibit downstairs at the Hollingsworth Mill, though a few items have been added.
The society office is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum
While the big news for the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum is the new location it plans to open in 2014, the current location is still working to keep children engaged and entertained in 2013, said Mary Braun, executive director.
The museum at 54 S. Loudoun St. has added two programs to its current lineups. A new math exhibit, “Math Delights — An Exhibit for Left-Brain Fitness,” features posters on display throughout the building asking children to solve puzzles or problems.
With the “World Discovery” program, children can pick up a clue sheet at the front desk and go around the museum learning about the culture and customs of a specific country, Braun said. When they complete all the clues, they get a stamp in their passport.
The current country is Venezuela, and a new one will be chosen in a few months.
“It is kind of like a little scavenger hunt with clues all throughout the museum,” she said.
Attendance this winter has been good, with the museum not seeing too much negative impact from the construction project on the Loudoun Street Mall, she said. The museum continues to offer regular programming and has had “fairly good attendance.”
The facility is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Meanwhile, the design documents for the museum’s new location at 19 W. Cork St. are almost ready and will go out to bid in February, Braun said. Demolition and the removal of any hazardous materials will be conducted in February, and construction should start in March or April.
Old Court House Civil War Museum
The Old Court House Civil War Museum, at 20 N. Loudoun St. is also riding out the winter and the disruption caused by the mall construction with the “same winter attendance we normally” have, said Maricarol Miller, museum director.
The museum will offer winter hours through April 30, opening to guests from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
The museum’s permanent display features more than 3,000 Civil War artifacts. Staff members are also working on a project related to the “Gettysburg Wall,” a place in the building where Union officers — captured during the retreat from the battle and held prisoner in Winchester — signed their names.
Officials hope the addition will be on display by the 150th anniversary of the battle (July 1-3, 1863), Miller said.
The museum will continue to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with the 2013 Sesquicentennial Soiree. The George Washington Ball is set for Feb. 23 in The George Washington Hotel and will feature period music, dancing and costumes, she said. The proceeds will benefit the Civil War museum.
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Although it remains open year-round, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley has its own construction zone this winter, with a renovation project for two of its galleries.
The museum at 901 Amherst St. has closed the Julian Wood Glass Jr. Gallery and the Changing Exhibition Gallery while the spaces are updated, and their contents switched spaces, said Julie Armel, director of marketing and public relations.
“The collections department right now is taking everything out of the Julian Glass Gallery – the decorative arts, the paintings, the furniture — and evaluating, condition reporting and recommending those that need conservation,” she said.
In its new space, the Julian Glass Gallery is being renamed the Founders Gallery and will feature items from the museum’s permanent collection displayed in different ways. It will open March 5 with the new exhibit, “Movable Feasts: Entertaining at Glen Burnie.”
The Changing Exhibition Gallery will almost double in size when it opens in the former Julian Glass Gallery June 1, allowing the museum to host larger exhibits, Armel said. The first exhibit in the new space will be “American Impressionism: The Lure of the Artists’ Colony.”
During the construction, the museum is offering a renovation special of $5 for adults to visit the Shenandoah Valley history, decorative arts and miniatures galleries. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
When the Glen Burnie Gardens open April 2, visitors will see preservation activity at the Glen Burnie Historic House, which is closed until 2014.
The museum also has bids in for Phase One of its construction and preservation project at its Rose Hill Farm property and will select a contractor in February, Armel said.
The work, which will take most of 2013, will involve a new entrance, accessible public restrooms, preservation work on the exterior of the house and installing a parking lot.
Patsy Cline Historic House
Since the Patsy Cline Historic House at 608 S. Kent St. closed for the winter Dec. 31, the time off is being used to train docents, book tours for the coming season, and “spruce the house up and get it ready for the visitors,” Executive Director JudySue Huyett-Kempf said.
Legendary country singer Patsy Cline lived in the house with her family intermittently from 1948 to 1957.
Although the house will not officially open until April 2, it will mark the 50th anniversary of the singer’s death — March 5, 1963 — with several events.
The house will be open from noon to 4 p.m. March 5-9 with admission fees of $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and free for active military personnel.
“A Celebration of Life: Remembering Patsy Cline” will be held from 8 to 11 p.m. March 9 in the Half Note Lounge of The George Washington Hotel at 103 E. Piccadilly St. The event is free and open to the public, with singer Liz Ruffner performing Cline’s music.
“It is going to be everybody talking about Patsy, and if anyone wants to say a few words about her, they are more than welcome,” Huyett-Kempf said.
The events will end with a memorial service at 3 p.m. March 10 in the Omps Funeral Home South Chapel at 1260 Front Royal Pike (U.S. 522) in the Shenandoah Memorial Gardens, where the singer is buried. A visitation to her grave will follow the memorial.
Clarke County Historical Association
For people who have not seen the Clarke County Historical Association Museum’s exhibit “Our Land is Our Legacy,” this winter might be a good time, Director Laura Christiansen said.
The exhibit is an overview of the history of Clarke County from before its settlement to the 20th century.
The exhibit in the museum at 32 E. Main St. in Berryville will be changed in the spring to allow more space for changing exhibits. The first changing exhibit, to open in the summer, will feature Native American artifacts and materials from the Cool Spring battlefield.
The historical society staff is using the winter to conduct strategic planning for the archives, she said. Starting in February, it will offer a series of monthly workshops for the museum and archives. The Feb. 23 lecture will focus on researching historic property.
The society also will conduct maintenance at the Burwell-Morgan Mill at 15 Tannery Lane in Millwood, to get it ready for the season. Entries are being accepted for the spring Art at the Mill show, set for April 27-May 12.
Belle Grove Plantation
Winter is not a time for rest at Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown, with plans for renovation projects and a full year of events to be ironed out, said Elizabeth McClung, director.
The historic house at 336 Belle Grove Road welcomed three new board members Jan. 1 and is training and updating its volunteers.
The house will hold a Valentine’s Day Dessert Party for prospective volunteers at 2 p.m. Feb. 14. For an invitation, call Chelsea Kashani at 540-869-2028.
The winter months have been filled with details for the house’s 16th annual Hite of Excellence Dinner Series, which starts Friday; the Of Ale and History Beer Festival, May 11; and the National Finals Sheepdog Trials, Oct. 7-13.
Repairs are also being made to the manor house and 1918 barn. The barn is the focus of a long-term project to renovate it as a visitor and event center, McClung said. Visitor restrooms will be added and the gift shop and admissions area will move there. Rental and exhibit space will also be added.
“Right now we are in the planning stages,” she said. “We are doing the structural work and the preparation work in the barn.”
Newtown History Center of the Stone House Foundation
The Newtown History Center at 5408 Main St. in Stephens City will reopen Memorial Day Weekend.
During the winter, staff members update exhibits, work on programming, and attend museum association meetings, said Wayne Eldred, manager of collections and programs.
Plans for changes to the exhibit have not been completed.
Long Branch Historic House and Farm
Long Branch is working on a new strategic plan, and its staff hopes to announce some the goals for the next five years in late winter or early spring, Executive Director Nicholas Redding said.
“We are coming up with concrete ways for us to become a more engaging and mission-oriented organization that is looking to tell a broader story and provide an authentic view of Virginia over the past 200 years. We are pretty excited about that,” he said.
The house is closed until summer, but will have its annual lecture series starting in March.
As soon as the weather starts to warm up, work will begin on upgrades and restoration the house needs, he said.
discoverymuseum.net civilwarmuseum.org shenandoahmuseum.org clarkehistory.org winchesterhistory.org celebratingpatsycline.org bellegrove.org newtownhistorycenter.org historiclongbranch.org
— Contact Laura McFarland firstname.lastname@example.org