Virginia Living Museum 50th Anniversary
2016 marked the Virginia Living Museum’s 50th Anniversary of serving the community! The anniversary year plans included over 50 special programs, speakers, events, a gala and a new permanent outdoor exhibit.
Can you believe it? In 1966, over 50 years ago the community came together to create the Peninsula Junior Nature Museum, as the VLM was named then. Led by Museum founder Harry Wason, the Warwick Rotary Club and the Junior League of Hampton Roads raised funds and partnered with the City of Newport News to create a Museum to teach children and families about the natural world. Our mission of connecting people to nature to promote conservation is still relevant and vital today.
It all began with the planetarium opening in November 1965. It was the era of the space-race and our state-of-the-art planetarium was designed to encourage future astronauts and inspire wonder about the night skies. That also included showing the “Star of Wonder” – now a family tradition for many families who have come back again and again.
Noon Year’s Eve has become another special tradition as we count down to noon for our youngest visitors so they can share in the New Year’s celebration and still keep their bedtime. This year we buried a time capsule in the Conservation Garden ready for 2065!
The VLM was built, beloved and sustained by the community over the past 50 years. Our year-long celebration will give back to the community through partnerships and special programs and create new reasons to visit and join for adults, children and families. With the continued generosity of the Wason family, we added a 50th anniversary sculpture to celebrate this community treasure. Black Bear Family by David Turner will be a special place for memories and family photos for years to come. The sculpture is located in the Conservation Garden.
The Virginia Living Museum launched a $5 million campaign for sustainability and science achievement as part of the anniversary celebration. Read more…
Anniversary Year Highlights
|Sept. 24|| Founders Reception|
See photos on Facebook
|Sept. 25|| Black Bear Family Sculpture public dedication|
See photos on Facebook
|Nov. 25-29||Star of Wonder anniversary 50 cents|
|Dec. 31|| 50th Time Capsule|
See Time Capsule photos on Facebook
Learn more about Time Capsule
|Dec. 31|| Noon Year’s Eve
See Noon Year’s Photos on Facebook
|Dec. 31-April 17|| BIG BUGS|
See opening day photos on Facebook
|Feb. 5||Golden Bacchus Wine & Food Festival|
|April 1||Jack Hanna Visit|
|April 24||Garden Fest|
|May 6||Enchanted Otter Masque|
|May 7-Sept. 5||Dinosaur Discoveries exhibit|
|May 21||Raptor Day|
|CANCELLED||Golden Boot Scootin’|
|Sept. 24||Member Day|
|Oct. 15||Dinosaur Discovery Trail opens|
|Oct. 21-22||Wild at Art Show|
|Nov. 12||Oyster Roast|
|Nov. 13||Community Birthday Party|
The Museum has held two very successful fundraisers as part of the anniversary celebration, the Golden Bacchus Wine & Food Festival in February and the Enchanted Otter Masque in May. Read more and see photos….
Anniversary Letters and Resolution
Blog and Community Voices
In this video, meet founders Harry Wason and Mary Sherwood Holt as they share stories of the Virginia Living Museum’s beginnings in 1966. This interview was conducted by VLM Executive Director Page Hayhurst for the “Forces of Nature” video blog September 2015.
This video, filmed and produced by Tabb High School students Emma Vedock and Rachel Ray, shares the reason why the Virginia Living Museum is so important to our youth. It was shown at the Enchanted Otter Masque May 6, 2016.
Check out our history blog: VLM Through the Years.
This video, filmed and produced by Tabb High School students Emma Vedock and Rachel Ray, shares the reason why the Virginia Living Museum is so important to our youth.
Harry Wason, Mary Sherwood Holt and Lois Bowman. Above in 1965, below at Founders Reception 2015. See Reception photos on Facebook.
View a retrospective from the Daily Press archives, thanks to Susan Conner.
View a special anniversary section published by the Daily Press May 1, 2016