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The Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston is one of the few facilities in the country that combines a modern performing arts center with a visual arts museum and an interactive science center.

Private contributions from the Clay Foundation and the Clay family of Charleston, and a $22.5 million grant from the state of West Virginia, launched the 240,000-square-foot art and science center. Individuals, foundations, and corporations from across West Virginia completed funding for the center, which is the product of a decade of planning and four years of fund-raising. The Clay Center was part of a major project conceived by the Charleston Renaissance Corporation to revive the downtown and a historic residential area while serving as a cultural and educational resource for students and citizens statewide.

Construction began in 1999. The Clay Center opened to the public on July 12, 2003.

The Clay Center includes the 1,883-seat Maier Foundation Performance Hall. The hall is the home of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and features various concert, comedic, dance and Broadway performances throughout the year. The Clay Center also includes the Walker Theater, a black box theater that is suitable for smaller performances, receptions, and community activities.

The Avampato Discovery Museum includes two floors of interactive science exhibits, an art gallery and a giant-screen theater. The museum includes exhibits focused on earth, physical, and health sciences. The Juliet Museum of Art features selections from a permanent art collection as well as traveling exhibits. The Electric Sky Theater offers large-format films from around the country and planetarium shows developed by the Clay Center staff on its 61-foot domed screen.

More than 50,000 schoolchildren from 50 West Virginia counties and 21 counties in surrounding states visit the center each year. More than a half million people have attended one of the many performances that have taken place on Clay Center stages since 2003.

Visit the Clay Center website.

This Article was written by Elizabeth Jill Wilson

Last Revised on June 15, 2016


Cite This Article

Wilson, Elizabeth Jill "Clay Center." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 15 June 2016. Web. 23 January 2017.

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