A rich historical heritage is one of many reasons people visit the Shenandoah Valley, and that history and culture may be nowhere better represented than the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester.
With four major galleries, changing exhibitions, a café and museum store, seven acres of water-feature gardens and the Glen Burnie Historic House, the Museum is a scenic hour and forty-minute drive from Washington, DC. Rose Hill Park, a few miles from the main museum, is also part of the system, and operated jointly with the Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department.
Much of the collection includes 18th and 19th Century fine art and furniture once owned by Julian Wood Glass Jr. (The Museum is on land originally owned by Winchester founder James Wood.) What else can you find? Paintings, flintlocks, miniatures, ceramics, folk art, baskets, silver, textiles—and that is just the beginning. For a closer look, we asked Julie Armel, the Museum’s Deputy Director of Community Relations, for an insider’s view.
SVTA: Some people don’t realize that, in addition to the galleries, the gardens, and the collections, MSV offers a very strong music/concert program. How did this come about?
Armel: “Most of the MSV’s musical performances are rooted in the traditions established by MSV benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. (1910–1992). Julian and his partner R. Lee Taylor designed the museum’s gardens to support entertaining in the gardens and both gentlemen were fond of the opera and chamber music.
“One of the MSV’s most popular programs is its Gardens at Night concert series on the second Fridays of the months June through September. Begun more than 15 years ago as concerts on the front lawn of the house, these outdoor concerts have grown to attracting 1,000-2,000 attendees per event. Gardens at Night concerts are now held on the lawn between the museum building and the gardens. The music played at these outdoor concerts includes a mix of rock, blues, funk, and pop hits from the 1960s to today. (See 2017 schedule here.)
“Following an extensive preservation project, the MSV’s Glen Burnie House reopened in 2014. The MSV offers salon concerts every 8 to 10 weeks from April through November. Salon performances include a wine-and-cheese reception and a performances of classical music performed on the museum’s restored 19th-Century piano. Made by the English piano manufacturer Broadwood and Sons in the late 1800s, the piano was owned by Julian Wood Glass Jr. and is now in top playing condition following a two-year restoration project. These concerts and a winter “Afternoons at the MSV” concert series in the Museum’s Reception Hall are presented by the MSV in partnership with Winchester’s Shenandoah University.”
SVTA: Is there any particular attraction that stimulates repeat visitation?
Armel: “The MSV’s seven-acre gardens and changing exhibitions are big draws as both offer something new to see quite frequently. A visitor favorite: the museum’s collection of miniature houses and rooms.”
SVTA: Do you have any sense of what was the most popular exhibit in 2016?
Armel: “The traveling exhibition Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau.”
More info here.
SVTA: “What is the oldest artifact in the Museum?
Armel: “A horse sculpture from the Tang Dynasty that was acquired by Julian Wood Glass Jr. The sculpture is on view in the library of the Glen Burnie House. The MSV Collections include more than 11,000 objects.”
SVTA: Is there a “most valuable” artifact or piece of art in the Museum? What’s it worth?
Armel: “While policy prevents us from discussing the value of objects in the Museum Collection, it is worth noting that one of the Museum’s most notable qualities is that the MSV site is 214 acres and is the largest green space in Winchester city limits; it is the only working farm remaining in the City of Winchester. The MSV is currently fundraising to install a trail system on its landscape which will open up even more of its green space to visitors.”
Forthcoming Events at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley:
Now through May 14, 2017
Superheroes and Superstars: The Works of Alex Ross works of one of the most famous comic book artists in the world. Ross will be at the MSV on April 1 for a rare signing event (12:30 to 3:30 p.m.). On view in the MSV Changing Exhibitions Gallery
June 3–September 3, 2017
Art and the Animal
On view in the MSV Changing Exhibitions Gallery
April 1–December 31, 2017
Tones of a New Day: The Works of Radford Wine. An exhibition of contemporary landscapes, waterscapes, and painted furniture by Shenandoah Valley artist Radford Wine. On view in the Glen Burnie House drawing room.
Now–July 30, 2017
Dynamics of Desire: The Evocative Works of Jim Costello
On view in the Shenandoah Valley Gallery
Now-July 1, 2018
This Must be the Place: The Art of Landscape
On view in the Founders Gallery.