Permanent Exhibits

Pre-Salem: What was here before 1802?
What happened in our valley long before Salem began as a town in 1802. Learn more about local Native American evidence and the lives of the earliest pioneers, including General Andrew Lewis.

Seven Lives, One Hometown
A Biographical History of Salem– an exhibition chronicling the lives of seven significant Salemites through the past 210 years. As you learn about their lives, the history of Salem itself unfolds!

The Brown House Parlor
A late Victorian parlor furnished with antiques original to the house during the Brown family’s residence in the 1800s.

The Fiery Ordeal Through Which They Passed: Salem and the Civil War
An exhibition commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, this exhibit chronicles the surprisingly active role Salem and Roanoke County played in the war, as well as how it has been remembered through the years.

History in Oak Frames: The Courthouse Portraits of 1910 
For the new Roanoke County Courthouse in 1910, a local judge commissioned the creation of one of Virginia’s finest collections of historical portraiture. Come learn more about these local notables!

Favorite Son: The Hometown Art of Walter Biggs
The best known artist from the Roanoke Valley was famed illustrator and Salem native Walter Biggs. His work graced many a national magazine, advertisement, and book, and his local scenes are especially prized today in his hometown.

Salem’s Attic: Amazing Artifacts from our Archive
An exhibit of some of the really cool and unusual objects from the Salem Museum collection.

Lakeside! Sixty Summers of Ups and Downs
In the hot summer of 1920, a mammoth swimming pool named Lakeside opened just east of Salem. Soon the resort added a Thriller (roller coaster), Twirl-Around (Ferris wheel), and other rides until Lakeside became the destination for summer fun in western Virginia. From 1968 until the park’s demise in the mid-80s, the centerpiece of Lakeside was the Shooting Star, a wooden roller coaster that at the time was the fastest in the world. Photographs, souvenirs, a scale model of the Shooting Star, and a million fond memories tell the exhilarating history of Lakeside’s sixty summers.

The Fashion Dolls of Pete Ballard
West Virginia artist and fashion historian Pete Ballard created these lovely ladies especially for the Salem Museum, to highlight women’s fashions in bygone days.

The Brand Collection: Aboriginal Artifacts from across the Globe
A collection of exotic pieces from Third World cultures, reflecting the travels and tastes of Cabell and Shirley Brand, two of Salem’s leading citizens.