Virginia is full of sites that relate to the founding of our country, the Civil War, and many other historic moments, including museums housing relics from significant events. But what about the lesser-known, quirkier artifacts of Virginia? Many proud Commonwealth residents have dedicated their lives to preserving interesting objects from the past that you won’t find at other museums. Visit one of these unbelievably odd yet fun museums to get a different take on Virginia’s history.
American Celebration on Parade—Mount Jackson
Ever wonder what happens to magnificent parade floats when they retire from the cheering crowds and flag-waving children of their moment in the limelight? The thousands of hours of hard work, craftsmanship, and artistry was a great passion of the late Earl Hargrove Jr., who owned a large decorating corporation that built floats for Presidential Inaugurals starting in 1949. Today, you can see over 20 of his massive, full-size parade floats from Presidential Inaugurals, Tournament of Roses and other national celebrations at the American Celebration on Parade museum. Seeing these beautifully preserved, detailed floats up close is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Virginia S. Evans Doll Museum & Model Railroad Museum—South Hill
The concepts of these two museums could not be more different, yet it is this juxtaposition that lends to the success of the Virginia S. Evans Doll Museum and the Model Railroad Museum existing in the same building. Located within the South Hill Visitor’s Center and Historic Train Depot, the doll museum houses a unique display of over 500 historic dolls dating back to the 1800’s. Each doll has a backstory that tells the origins and significance, all painstakingly hand-written by Virginia S. Evans.
The train museum focuses on 200 miles of historic railroad in Virginia, referred to as the “Wiggle, Bump, and Agony”. The most important piece in the museum is the Atlantic & Danville Model R.R. reconstruction, a scale model of the train and town during the 1950’s.
The Roanoke Pinball Museum—Roanoke
If you’re interested in classic games, visit the Roanoke Pinball Museum, an interactive museum dedicated to the history and science behind the invention of the game. One of the first interactive electric games, pinball has a unique role in the rise of gaming in American culture. The museum showcases over 50 machines produced between 1932 and 2012. Jump on one of these arcade machines in the museum and test your skills at any level of pinball play.
Virginia Musical Museum—Williamsburg
With the famous Crooked Road winding through the state, Virginia’s musical narrative is long and interesting. The Virginia Musical Museum pays tribute to that history, housing rare instruments from bygone eras in the Commonwealth, such as the harpsichord, nickelodeon, phonographs, and other early musical memorabilia. Outfits worn by Patsy Cline, Wayne Newton’s car, and other significant pieces of history round out the collection.
Steins Unlimited Museum—Pamplin
German beer steins have been around for centuries, and the Steins Unlimited Museum in Pamplin houses one …read more