The Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) is located in Martinsville Virginia. Founded in 1984, its mission is to “interpret Virginia’s natural heritage within a global context in ways that are relevant to all citizens of the Commonwealth.” The VMNH features award-winning permanent and temporary displays and provides artifacts and traveling exhibits for education and display throughout the state of Virginia.
Since 2011, the Waynesboro City Council, Economic Development Authority (EDA), the Center for Coldwater Restoration, and Staff have been working with the VMNH to locate a Waynesboro Campus in downtown. The City Council and EDA along with private contributions have helped fund a number of studies to determine the feasibility of such a center. Key findings of those studies include:
It is financially feasible and the regional market could support a Virginia Museum of Natural History – Waynesboro Campus, conceived as a 28,000 square foot facility including exhibits focused on the natural history of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge region. Specific features of the facility would include:
- Exciting, creative exhibits interpreting the local environment and natural history using some of the 10 million artifacts currently housed in Martinsville;
- Environmental classrooms supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and providing an opportunity for some 63,000 K-12 students in the region to explore and learn;
- A ‘playscape’ interactive area for early childhood learning;
- Publicly viewable laboratories where curators and university partners will have an opportunity to work and learn;
- A resource for partners in public programs and scientific research that will include the Wildlife Center of Virginia, James Madison University, and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
It is estimated that the center would attract between 45,332 and 85,832 visitors a year that include both residents in the region, visitors to the Valley and tourists traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, and have an annual economic impact of $4,200,000.
The City has committed $1,000,000 in combined direct financial contribution including in-kind support and real property. A corporate and public philanthropic giving campaign is planned with the goal of raising a minimum of $2,000,000.
The campus is currently in the detailed design phase and is slated to be a 28,000 square foot two story facility located in Constitution Park at Broad and Arch. The museum will feature exhibits interpreting the unique attributes of the Shenandoah Valley, provide educational opportunities for the region, while increasing cultural and tourism opportunities for the city and region.
For up to date information on the Waynesboro Campus, visit the Virginia Museum of Natural History – Waynesboro Campus web page.