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50th Anniversary

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.


Future Ready

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

See Bacchus photos on Facebook

April 1Jack Hanna Visit

See Jack Hanna event photos on Facebook

See Jack Hanna reception photos on Facebook

April 24 Garden Fest

See Garden Fest photos on Facebook

May 6Enchanted Otter Masque

See Enchanted Otter photos on Facebook

May 7-Sept. 5 Dinosaur Discoveries exhibit

See member preview photos on Facebook

May 21Raptor Day

See Raptor Day Photos on Facebook

CANCELLED Golden Boot Scootin’
Sept. 24 Member Day

See Member Day photos on Facebook

Oct. 15 Dinosaur Discovery Trail opens


See Ribbon-cutting Ceremony Photos on Facebook

Oct. 21-22 Wild at Art Show

See Art Show photos on Facebook

Nov. 12 Oyster Roast

See Oyster Roast photos on Facebook

Nov. 13 Community Birthday Party

See Birthday Party photos on Facebook

Anniversary Fundraisers

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.

mannequin challenge

PJNCP-rendering-webHarry-MarySherwood-Murphy65Harry Wason, Mary Sherwood Holt and Lois Bowman. Above in 1965, below at Founders Reception 2015. See Reception photos on Facebook.

Harry-MarySherwood-Lois-2015View a retrospective from the Daily Press archives, thanks to Susan Conner.

View a special anniversary section published by the Daily Press  May 1, 2016


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