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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 Department of Culture and History (now Arts, Culture & History), including its arts and historic preservation units, and the State Archives, the Norman L. Fagan State Theater, Goldenseal magazine, 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 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 2004 and reopened in 2009. The museum displays artifacts and exhibits profiling West Virginia’s land and people, paleontology, minerals, frontier life, industries, art, 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 and annual Quilt & Wall Hanging 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 old-time-music festival each Memorial Day weekend, and hosts other events throughout the year. Although officially named the West Virginia Science & Culture Center, it was typically referred to simply as the Cultural Center. Since 2009, the facility has been known formally as the West Virginia Culture Center.

This Article was written by H. G. Young III

Last Revised on June 26, 2023


Bumgardner, Stan. The Culture Center: West Virginia’s “Treasure House”. Goldenseal, 42, 2, Summer 2016.

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

Cite This Article

Young III, H. G. "The Culture Center." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 26 June 2023. Web. 22 May 2024.


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