Vacation planning not only involves choosing a destination, but also choosing reasons to travel. In Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the reasons to travel our way are numerous. 

For starters, we have excellent craft beer, an abundance of outdoor recreation, fantastic farm-to-table restaurants, and legitimately exciting museums & galleries. 

You know, the ones that are sensory based – see, touch, smell, hear, and taste…Actually, taste might be a stretch, but some of our museums do have cafes, so maybe that counts?

Note these eight exhibits that we invite you to see this year in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. They’re well worth the drive and will be an added bonus to your trip.

1. “Views of Tinker Mountain by Ron Boehmer”

Views of Tinker Mountain

Location: Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University | Roanoke
Dates: January 12 through April 31, 2017
Known as one of Virginia’s premier landscape painters, Ron Boehmer was commissioned in 1990 to paint “View of Tinker Mountain,” which has been on display in the Main Building on the Hollins campus. This exhibit of the same name allows visitors and students alike to examine Boehmer’s 11 studies leading up to the final piece. They include ink sketch, ink wash, graphite, and oil pastel. This is the first time the studies have ever been displayed.

2. “Reading Appalachia”

Location: O. Winston Link Museum / History Museum of Western Virginia | Roanoke
Dates: through March 5, 2017
A multimedia exhibit featuring children’s books dating from the late 1800s, “Reading Appalachia” includes Appalachian authors and illustrators like Ray Hicks, as well as those heavily influenced by Appalachia, like Ellis Credle. This exhibit extends beyond the books to include life-size characters from the books, special readings, and even performances at Mill Mountain Theatre.

3. “Follicular: The Hair Stories of Sonya Clark”

Location: Taubman Museum of Art | Roanoke
Dates: through May 14, 2017
Like a child of any color or gender, Sonya Clark’s history with her hair includes the detangling of it by a well-meaning parent, guardian, or stylist. Clark, however, is an artist who uses hair and its accoutrements to create memorable, meaningful, symbolic works of art. According to, “her exhibition explores hair as an indicator of race, social status, a symbol of age and authority, a statement of contemporary style, an object of beauty, and adornment.” 

Look for her piece “Toothless,” a collection of black plastic combs in various states of wear. We can all agree that regarding hair and all that it may symbolize, the struggle is real.

4. “Lakeside! Sixty Summers of Ups and Downs”

Lakeside Exhibit - Salem Museuem

Location: Salem Museum | Salem
Dates: Permanent Display
Without this exhibit, Millennials would never have an inkling that Lakeside was once the home of the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster. Far from a Six Flags or Busch Gardens, Lakeside was a family summer destination from the 1920s through the mid-1980s that grew from being one gigantic pool to a mini theme park.

5. “Amazing Arteries”

Location: Science Museum of Western Virginia | Roanoke
Dates: Permanent Display; just opened November 30, 2016
So what does your circulatory system look like? This new, permanent exhibit demonstrates how blood courses through your body. The nifty pneumatic tubes allow visitors to interact with the flow and change the course of the red foam balls. It’s health education with a little engineering thrown in for fun!

6. “Artists & Architecture”

Location: Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech | Blacksburg
Dates: January 19 through April 1, 2017
What happens when you mix art and architecture? An interesting rendering of the technical and the imagination. Called “conceptually layered,” “Artists & Architecture” is an exhibition by seven artists well versed in architecture, which allows them to reimagine form and introduce emotion.

The exhibit is accompanied by a reception on January 26 and multiple artist talks.

7. “American Impressionism in the Garden”

Location: Taubman Museum of Art | Roanoke
Dates: February 19 through May 14, 2017
If you love the dreamy rendering of impressionist artists like Monet, Degas, Renoir, and van Gogh, you won’t want to miss this exhibit. More than 25 works of art from the 19th century American Garden Movement make up “American Impressionism in the Garden.” Artists include William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, and John Singer Sargent. 

While the Taubman Museum of Art is free, this particular exhibition is ticketed.

8. "Extraordinary Crowns"

Harrison Museum - Extraordinary Crowns

Location: Harrison Museum of African American Culture | Roanoke
Dates: Through April 30, 2017
This new exhibition is a feature of the incredible hat collection of Mrs. Irma Jean Young Smith. The Pulaski native had a passion for extraordinary hats and collected over 150 in her lifetime, and approximately 30 of them will be on display. This exhibit focuses on the history, traditions and symbolism of hats for African American women, and how it traces back to their roots in Africa.

9. "Old Ways, New Look: Hand Skills in Transition"

Pleasant Quilters

Location: Blue Ridge Institute & Museum | Ferrum
Dates: mid-May through mid-August, 2017
Working hands. They mend, carve, and contort to create, always meeting the needs and changes of the time. One of the most impressive ways to see skilled progression and innovation in art is to look at traditional crafts. This exhibit of vintage and contemporary photos build something of a timeline to demonstrate the power and beauty of rural working hands.

Be sure to subscribe to receive our e-newsletter for more great reasons to visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. You can also get more trip ideas by checking out our calendar of Featured Exhibits.