The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, in Winchester, VA, is more than just your typical regional cultural center. The facility includes multiple galleries, 7 acres of gardens, a historic house, park, hiking trails, and so much more!
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) is an ancestral home, turned into a country retreat, that morphed into a museum.
The museum property was originally claimed in 1735 by Winchester founder, James Wood. It was passed down through the Wood and Glass families until Julian Wood Glass Jr., purchased it in the 1950's.
Glass and his partner, R. Lee Taylor, transformed the site into a country retreat, where they entertained in high style. They filled the 1794 Glen Burnie House with fine art and furnishings from the eighteenth-and-nineteenth-century. Over the years, they surrounded the house with six acres of elaborate gardens. By 1960, Glen Burnie had become a showplace.
Julian Wood Glass Jr. passed away in 1992 and the house and gardens were opened to the public. The 50,000-square-foot Museum of the Shenandoah Valley was added to the property in 2005.
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
The main mission of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) was to fulfill Glass’s vision of sharing his collections with the public. The museum also works to interpret the history and decorative arts of the Shenandoah Valley.
One of the main things MSV is know for is its "odd objects." One of the more popular displays is a wall of unusual, antique tools. Visitors are challenged to guess each thing's purpose - and it's not easy! Many look like implements of torture or mayhem, yet most turn out to be fairly mundane.
The museum seems to delight in the odd. The Staffordshire figurine of Benjamin Franklin labeled “Washington” that made it on to an episode of Antiques Roadshow leaps to mind. There's a beehive woven from ryegrass, tramp art, and a mysterious iron rabbit whose purpose remains obscure.
Many of the objects in the museum's cases are not what one might expect from a museum in the Shenandoah Valley. The exhibits and galleries were carefully designed to intrigue, not exhaust and bore, visitors.
Glen Burnie House and Gardens
Visitors to the MSV have the opportunity to tour the first floor of the historic and gorgeously furnished Glen Burnie House.
Inside, you'll see much of Julian Wood Glass Jr.'s eighteenth-and-nineteenth-century fine art and furnishings. Interpretive panels tell the story of the house and those who lived here between 1796 to 1992. Don't miss the fully furnished miniature of the house to see how it looked when it was Glass and Taylor's private residence.
The seven-acre gardens that surround the Glen Burnie House are definitely worth your attention. Development of the formal gardens began in 1956 and continued through the end of the twentieth century. Garden types include rose, perennial, vegetable, Asian, and water. There are also wonderfully intricate parterre, and knot gardens.
MSV also offers a makerspace, traveling exhibits, and a museum store. Light snacks and refreshments are available in the café. Picnics on the grounds are welcome.
Visit the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
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