During this time of COVID-19 and Virginia’s stay-at-home orders, Virginia’s Blue Ridge is exploring virtual spaces and new ways of connecting and learning. Check out the creative ways the museums, attractions, and art galleries of Virginia’s Blue Ridge are educating and entertaining their followers.
Give them a glance, dig deeper into what interests you, and if you’re able, consider supporting them by purchasing gift certificates or passes for future use.
A favorite go-to for school groups and homeschoolers, the working 1800s Blue Ridge farm and homestead depicts the way of life for families in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, complete with blacksmithing, butter churning, animal driving, and more. Additionally, the museum hosts a collection of mountain living artifacts like quilts, music, baskets, and pottery. In fact, it’s The State Center for Blue Ridge Folklore per the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1986.
While you can’t visit right now, you can certainly whet your appetite with a perusal of their Online Exhibits, including the enticing moonshine collection.
Moonshine - Blue Ridge Style >>
Full Throttle: Racing & Rodding in Southwest Virginia >>
Earthenware Potters Along the Great Road in Virginia & Tennessee >>
Normally, Center in the Square serves as a hub of arts & culture in downtown Roanoke and houses multiple museums and performing arts organizations. It’s known for providing fun, entertainment & education, and is a popular spot for school field trips. As a way to continue to carry out its mission, Center in the Square is offering the opportunity for children to enjoy some virtual field trips through a series of videos.
Get Schooled at Home Virtual Field Trips >
Regional and emerging artists share exhibit space with renowned artists in the galleries of the Wilson Museum. Typically the museum hosts rotating exhibits with special programming, but while we’re living in this “new normal” for a while, virtual explorations will have to do.
Women Working with Clay: Ten Years of Telling the Story is a new publication featuring page after page of art by more than 50 female artists.
Eleanor D. Wilson Museum - Virtual Publications >>
Unveiling the Past: Reckoning with Our History of Enslavement at Hollins is a virtual exhibit available April 9-26, 2020. The exhibit gives “a forum to those who were not given a voice, name, space, or attention in the past.”
Eleanor D. Wilson Museum – Current Exhibitions >>
Numerous April events had been originally scheduled as part of Franklin County’s celebration of Moonshine Heritage Month. As an alternative, the Franklin County Moonshine Heritage Facebook page is offering virtual experiences by sharing stories of how it became known as “The Wettest County in the World.”
Franklin County Moonshine Heritage Facebook Page >
Usually Glazed Bisque-It is a place to unwind and create something amazing with your own hands. In this time of social distancing, you now have the chance to take your pottery to go. Make your selection(s) and the staff will prepare a bag of supplies for you to pick up curbside. When you’ve put the finishing touches on your piece(s), simply bring everything back for glazing and firing.
Call (540) 985-4567 to order your Pottery To Go Kit >>
A visit to the History Museum of Western Virginia is also a chance to explore the renowned black and white images of O. Winston Link in the O. Winston Link Museum. The two share space and jointly share history of Roanoke and Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Searching the online collections database is easy. Choose to search by keyword or dig deeper with an advanced search. Personally, we found the Random Images button the way to go.
You can also watch some interesting new videos on the Historical Society of Western Virginia YouTube channel, featuring History Snippets that offer a glimpse back in time and Virtual Tours of museum galleries.
Digital Collections >> | Historical Society YouTube Channel >>
We know you’re longing for the day when you can unleash your kiddo into the fun world of The Don and Barbara Smith Children’s Museum of Western Virginia. Us too. For now, we’ll pull up their Facebook page and let the kids watch their live activity videos; check them out.
To get hands on with something fun, request a Kits for Kids goodie packet. For just $10 you’ll get a kit of make-your-own projects and experiments. Curbside pick-up only.
Facebook Live Activity Videos >>
Kits for Kids >>
Zoos are currently closed, but that doesn’t mean the animals can’t still educate and entertain from afar. Tune in to the Mill Mountain Zoo Education Ambassador Animal videos to learn about the residents of the zoo. Additionally, grade level educational packets are available for you to download and print at home. Pre-K through 8th grade are included.
If you’re in the position to help support the zoo during this time, you can “adopt” an animal. Mill Mountain Zoo will send you an adoption certificate with a photo of your animal, its story, and facts about its species. The more you’re able to pledge, the more goodies you’ll receive. Adopting a Florida Sandhill Crane in Virginia’s Blue Ridge is not something you’d think would be possible, huh?
Education Ambassador Animal Videos >>
Educational Packets for Kids >>
Adopt an Animal >>
VBR Coloring Sheet - Mill Mountain Zoo >>
We’re currently living through a moment that will be recorded in world annals, which might give us pause to consider and remember other moments of history we might have missed or forgotten.
The National D-Day Memorial is a somber place that is best experienced in person, and we encourage you to do so when the time is right. Its presence in Bedford is both an honor and a tragedy, as the Memorial was erected in the community that suffered the most losses on D-Day (June 6, 1944) per capita. The Bedford Boys are heroes.
Until we recover and can freely explore, we encourage you to pull up the virtual educational resources of the Memorial to get a head start on the story you’ll encounter. The lesson plans and activities were initially to be used in conjunction with classroom instruction about World War II and D-Day, specifically, but perhaps we should all be life-long learners. Take a glance through the links and then scroll to the bottom where you’ll find a black button to access LIVE virtual programs and recordings, as well as view previous recordings.
Education Resources >>
Virtual Programs and Recordings >>
World War 2 History at the National D-Day Memorial >>
The Olin Hall Galleries at Roanoke College are showcasing a variety of workshops, artist talks, and studio visits through its social media channels as part of its Curator Off Duty program. You can also visit the 2020 Studio Art Virtual Exhibition online, which features a beautiful collection of paintings, photography, and mixed media pieces.
2020 Studio Virtual Art Exhibition >>
Olin Hall Galleries Instagram >>
Roanoke Children’s Theatre will soon be Virginia Children’s Theatre, and they’re currently showing off their acting skills (and other skills) through their Facebook page. For example, bread was whipped up and baked as the culmination of a week of “The Little Red Hen.” Have your kiddos watch and follow along, as they promise to do the homeschooling for you. We’re totally game for that!
Facebook Activity Videos >>
The Roanoke Star is a treasured icon of Roanoke, glowing bright from atop Mill Mountain. Sometimes the star's colors change, but that’s infrequent. However, unprecedented times call for a shift in protocol. On April 15, the star was lit blue and white as a way to honor “healthcare workers, fire, EMS personnel and all the people who perform essential services we depend upon including store clerks, mechanics and sanitation workers,” said Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea. The star remained blue and white through Sunday, April 19, 2020.
While we don’t recommend you visit the Roanoke Star during this time, we do encourage you to take a peek at the valley below via the StarCam.
View from the STARCAM >>
History of the Roanoke Star and Light Changes >>
A rather new addition to Center in the Square is the Roanoke STARCADE, an arcade with both classic and new games. Its proximity to the Roanoke Pinball Museum makes it a great two-for-one trip enticing to families and game lovers.
While it may be a bit before you can engage those games, you can certainly check out their livestream gaming through their Facebook page. Watching other people play a game can be a yawn for us more mature folks, but for “the zoomers” (aka Gen Z), it’s all the rage. Show ‘em!
STARCADE Facebook Live Videos >>
A night out to listen to the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra is something we relish around here. Alas, it’s on hold. But fear not! The musicians of the RSO have gotten quite creative for our benefit. Take a look at their orchestra lessons and pair them with the corresponding Spotify playlists for a homeschool/distance/virtual learning segment on Fine Arts.
The lessons include introductions to well-loved pieces and encourages discussion about how the music makes you feel. Plus, there is something for everyone. In the first lesson alone, “The Thrill of the Orchestra,” we’re invited to learn about and listen to the theme from Star Wars, the theme from Apollo 13, and one of my all-time favorites, “Jupiter” from The Planets by Gustav Holst.
Virtual Lessons & Educational Resources >>
Roanoke Symphony Orchestra Spotify Channel >>
The Salem Museum is a repository for all things of historical significance as it relates to Salem, Virginia. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll learn. For example, were you aware that “the world’s fastest rollercoaster” was located in Salem? Some say it’s true. See what else you didn’t know when you check out their online collections and take advantage of their Visits by Video, including “White Glove Wednesdays” and “Around Town” with corresponding activities.
Online Collections >>
Visits by Video >>
How can “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” not bring a tear to your eye right about now? We’re missing our Salem Red Sox and the atmosphere of Salem Memorial Ballpark, but we’re glad to see Sox staff – and Mugsy, of course – reading aloud on Facebook.
Reading with the Red Sox Storytime >>
VBR Coloring Sheet - Salem Red Sox >>
Long before Coronavirus, cabin fever was a real thing. We usually experienced it during the winter when the odds were good that we’d be snowed in at some point. Some of us are sort of suspended in a prolonged period of cabin fever these days, aren’t we? Let’s beat it with the help of the Science Museum of Western Virginia, a go-to for school groups and home to some of our favorite exhibits. Check out their Cabin Fever Clips as well as their other videos, because you never know what’s in store. Beware of “Rosie cleaning her fangs” however. *shiver*
Cabin Fever Clips >>
Add this to your post-COVID-19 to-do list! The Stone House is a 1911 home built by Michael Grosso, a stone mason, and lovingly updated and restored by our famous “as seen on TV” guys at Black Dog Salvage. The home sleeps six and has the sweetest architectural details, nooks, and special spaces, and it’s conveniently located adjacent to the Roanoke River Greenway. Take a look at their virtual tour and then plan to book it for a future getaway.
The Stone House Virtual Tour >>
Black Dog Salvage & Salvage Dawgs >>
One of our favorite places to wander is the Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke. You’ll recognize it by its sweeping silver roofline (featured at the top of this post). Rotating and permanent exhibit space keep things fresh and new, plus children have their own art exploration center. It’s truly a family art destination. Until you can get there, however, dive into their virtual classes and tours. It’s art appreciation and education from the comfort of home.
Virtual Classes & Tours >>
There’s no other place to be if you’re a lover of trains, planes, and automobiles. That being said, you can’t very well “be” there right now. The most popular exhibits at VMT are the steam, diesel, and electric locomotives. There are more than 50 objects that magnify the rail history of Virginia and you can “see” many of them online. Peruse the collections to discover more types of transportation housed at the VMT and learn a bit of history about each.
Online Collections >>
Virginia’s Rail Heritage Region Rail Cam >>
VBR Coloring Sheet - Virginia Museum of Transportation >>
When we work together to uncover new ways of exploration and virtual travel, we soon realize there are more ways to connect, grow, learn, and experience than we may have been aware. Through this we become inventors, deeper thinkers, and visionaries with new ideas. Virginia’s Blue Ridge is worth the wait and we’ll be right here for you when the time is right.