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The Culture Center


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One week after the United States celebrated its bicentennial, Governor Arch Moore dedicated the West Virginia Science and Culture Center on July 11, 1976. Located just west of the state capitol and behind the Governor’s Mansion, the $14-million structure, designed by C. E. Silling of Charleston, was constructed to showcase the Mountain State’s artistic, cultural, and historic heritage. The center became the home of the new West Virginia Division of Culture and History, including its arts and historic preservation units, and the State Archives, the Norman L. Fagan State Theater, State Museum, and the State Museum Shop. The West Virginia Library Commission shares the building, with its offices and a major library there.

The center’s great hall, with its white Alabama marble walls accented by West Virginia oak, a red Tennessee marble floor, gold and wood coffered ceiling, and two large dodecahedron-shaped bronze and crystal chandeliers, welcomes visitors. The 468-seat theater, behind the great hall, hosts West Virginia’s performing artists, dance, theater, jazz, and film festivals, affairs of state, and performance broadcasts of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s ‘‘Mountain Stage.’’ The Library Commission’s reference room is at the left of the great hall and the Archives library is to the right.

The State Museum closed for renovation in 2006 and reopened in 2009. The museum displays artifacts and exhibits profiling West Virginia’s land and people, paleontology, minerals, frontier life, industries, and history. Changing exhibitions in the great hall showcase items from the museum’s extensive collections as well as traveling exhibits and winners of the biennial West Virginia Juried Exhibition. The building’s non-public upper levels house book and manuscript collections of the State Archives and the closed stacks of the Library Commission. The Culture Center is the site of the annual Vandalia Gathering folk festival each Memorial Day weekend, and hosts other events throughout the year. Prior to 2009, the facility was known as the Cultural Center.

Written by H. G. Young III

Sources

  1. Griffith, Carolanne. For a Tour of West Virginia's New Science & Culture Center. Wonderful West Virginia, (Dec. 1976).