[Roanoke, VA]-Today, five Roanoke museums announced they will offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, through Labor Day, September 5, 2011, as Blue Star Museums. The program is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and more than 1,300 museums across America.


The free admission program is available to active-duty military and their immediate family members (military ID holder and five immediate family members). Active duty military include Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and active duty National Guard and active duty Reserve members. Military personnel or their families must present a CAC Geneva Conventions ID or a DD 1173 active duty military family ID to receive free admission for the bearer and up to five family members.


Since World War I, the Blue Star has been used to designate families which have a member who is serving in active duty during a time of combat. Blue Star Families was founded in 2008 with a special focus on the nearly one million children who have had at least one parent deployed during the combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.


"We are proud to partner with our colleagues at home and across the nation to provide free museum admission to our service men and women, so that they can experience art and culture in the Roanoke Valley," said Jeanne Bollendorf, executive director of the Historical Society of Western Virginia on behalf of all the participating museums. "Those who serve our country and protect our freedoms deserve special recognition and the opportunity to create memories with their families." 


"Military families work hard for this country," said Blue Star Families Chairman Kathy Roth-Douquet. "There have always been wonderful examples of partnerships between museums and military installations, but the scale of this gift from the museum community to military families is thrilling." More than 1,300 museums in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are taking part in the initiative. For the full list of participating museums, visit www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.


In Roanoke, the following museums are honored to participate in the program:


The History Museum of Western Virginia is home to the largest collection of artifacts devoted to tracing the human history of western Virginia, a compelling story of a crossroads of migration that harkens back to our development as a nation. Historical artifacts offer a glimpse of life in southwest Virginia in times past, creating a vivid cultural and educational experience. Special exhibit this summer:

  • Hometown Stars: Southwest Virginia's Recording Legacy, 1923-1943 opening August 3

Closing at Center in the Square on May 29, and reopening August 3 in the Hotel Shenandoah at 128 Campbell Avenue (the former Twists & Turns downtown location). Open Tuesday - Friday 10 am-4 pm; Saturday 10 am-5 pm; and Sunday 1-5 pm. For more information, call 540-342-5770 or visit www.history-museum.org.


The O. Winston Link Museum features the work of the famed photographer. Between 1955 and 1960, Link created unforgettable black and white images that documented the last days of Norfolk & Western's steam giants and the people and places along its lines. The Museum's collection features more than 300 stunning photographs, audio listening stations, a documentary film, artifacts and recreations of Link's photographic settings. Special exhibits this summer:

  • Dominion Derby Girls: Portraits by Glen McClure, through July 29
  • This Great Nation Will Endure, Images from the New Deal, opens August 10.

Located in Downtown Roanoke at 101 Shenandoah Ave. Open Monday-Sunday 10 am-5 pm. For information, call 540-982-5465 or visit www.linkmuseum.org.


The Taubman Museum of Art showcases American art, modern and contemporary art, design and decorative arts, folk and visionary art, and works on paper, and features a changing array of both national and international exhibitions. Tours, gallery talks, musical performances, films, classes, camps, and special events are part of the museum's diverse offerings. Special exhibits this summer:

  • Beverly Buchanan & Lillian Blades : Recollection: The Past is Present, through August 28
  • Nature and the Non-Objective Realm, through October 2
  • Tim Tate: The Waking Dreams of Magdalena Molière, June 3 - August 14
  • Kay Rosen: On the Off Ramp, June 3 - August 28
  • Kiel Johnson: One Thing Leads to Another, June 3 - August 28

Located in Downtown Roanoke at 110 Salem Avenue SE. Open Tuesday - Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 10 am-5 pm; Fridays 10 am - 8 pm; and Sunday 12-5 pm.  For information, call 540-342-5760 or visit www.taubmanmuseum.org


The Virginia Museum of Transportation is home to two of the most powerful steam locomotives in existence today, the Norfolk & Western Class A 1218 and the Class J 611. Through exhibits, artifacts, and an outstanding collection, the Museum tells the rich story of Virginia's transportation heritage. The Virginia Museum of Transportation is the Official Transportation Museum of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Special exhibit this summer:

  • Hollywood's Star Cars, a collection of memorable vehicles that have starred in favorite movies. June 26-July 31

Located in Downtown Roanoke at 303 Norfolk Avenue SW. Open Monday-Saturday 10 am-5 pm; and Sunday 1-5 pm. For information, call 540-342-5670 or visit www.vmt.org


The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, a premiere arts destination in the Roanoke Valley, features the work of nationally renowned artists, emerging figures, and regional names. The Museum mounts exhibitions that explore currents in modern and contemporary art, as well as presenting work from the permanent collection. Special exhibit this summer:

  • Goodnight, Hush: Classic Children's Book Illustrations, opening June 23. The exhibit features original artwork by Clement Hurd (illustrator of Goodnight Moon and the Runaway Bunny), Thacher Hurd (Clement's son and also a writer and illustrator), Ashley Wolff (illustrator of the Miss Bindergarten series and Baby Beluga books) and Ruth Sanderson (writer and illustrator of many children's story and picture books)

Located at Hollins University at 8009 Fishburn Drive. Open Tuesday - Friday, 10 am to 4 pm; and Saturday, 1 - 5 pm. For information, call 540-362-6532 or visit www.hollins.edu/museum.


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