Events & Activities

Hands-On Art Day
Saturday, July 14, 10 am to 4 pm

Aspiring artists of all ages are invited to get creative and try their hand at a new form of art! On July 14, the opening day of our Celebrate Salem Community Art Show, visitors will be able to meet artists who will be providing demonstrations and offering hands-on opportunities for visitors to try different materials and techniques, while supplies last.

  • Blue Ridge Potters Guild: hands-on experience and potter’s wheel demo, all day
  • Bonnie Scott, Joyful Adornments: glass-blowing demo, all day
  • China painting with Linda Badger, all day (small fee to have piece fired)
  • Rock painting–join the fun! All day
  • Topographical watercolors with Kyra Hinton, 10-1
  • Oil painting demo with Kathy Highsmith, 1-4
  • Watercolor painting with Ed Tippie, 1-4

Admission is free, but donations are always appreciated. The Hands-On Art Day is made possible through the generous support of Bill and Ellen Arnold.

Salem Museum Speaker Series
A Choice Bit of Calico: Clothing for the Jazz Babies
Monday, July 16 at 7 pm

After the deprivations of WWI, the decade that followed—the Roaring Twenties—was a time of economic prosperity and great cultural change. This Salem Museum Speaker Series talk takes a look back at the clothing that defined the 1920s. There’s more to the era than flappers and bobs! Knickers, sporting wear, bobbed hair and finger waves… come see what they wore for every day, as well as special occasions. This fun and informative talk is presented by Sarah Nucci, the Curator of Education for the Town of Wytheville. She is a graduate of Mary Washington College with a BA in Historic Preservation and loves to study historic clothing and foodways throughout American History. This event is free and open to the public.

Civil War Saturdays return!
August 4 and 11, 10 am to 4 pm

This year, the Salem Museum and Historical Society will be hosting our second Annual Civil War Saturdays on August 4 and 11.  This year’s programming will include re-enactors portraying cavalry soldiers, general infantry and a Southern supply depot.  During the day on these Saturdays, the Museum will feature documentaries that explore individual battles and conflicts of the war.  The events are free to the public.

Salem and the Iron Horse
September 17 at 7 pm

The Iron Horse, as railroads were called, came to the tiny village of Big Lick, Virginia in 1881 due to a combination of citizen effort and sheer good luck. The railroad launched such swift growth that the new town of Roanoke came to be known as the Magic City. Ever since, however, a rumor has persisted that the much older town of Salem was content to be a sleepy hamlet, and didn’t want the railroad with its noise, ash, and commotion. By delving into the real story, historian John R. Hildebrand will explain why nothing could have been further from the truth. Salem tried hard, not once but twice—even putting a locomotive on the town seal—but unlike in Roanoke, the luck ran against them.

John R. Hildebrand is a civil engineering graduate of Virginia Tech. His civil engineering career spanned more than 40 years and involved many highway, airport, railroad, and rapid transit projects. His engineering background and interest in the history of the Shenandoah Valley and southwest Virginia led to his research into the early histories of the Valley and Shenandoah Valley Railroads. Mr. Hildebrand is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil War Engineers and the author of Iron Horses in the Valley: The Valley and Shenandoah Valley Railroads, 1866-1882; The Life and Times of John Brown Baldwin, 1820-1873: A Chronicle of Virginia’s Struggle with Slavery, Secession, Civil War, and Reconstruction; and  A Mennonite Journal, A Father’s Account of the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley, 1862-1865.

He has also contributed articles to the Proceedings of the Rockbridge County Historical Society, the Journal of the Historical Society of Western Virginia and most recently, an article for the Smithfield Review, True Friends of the Confederacy, the story of those members of the Second Confederate Congress who proposed negotiations with the Lincoln administration to reconstruct the Union. A special project was an article for Air Power History, a periodical published quarterly by the Air Force Historical Foundation. The essay was a history of the Army Air Corps communications station located at Naples, Italy from 1943 until 1947, a unit in which he served in 1946. He has also written two family histories, The Shank and Jeter Families of Salem, Virginia and The Hildebrands of the Barren Ridge.

The Ghost Walk returns for its 19th year!
October 4-6 at East Hill Cemetery
October 11-13 at Sherwood Memorial Park

Mark your calendars for the Salem Museum’s most popular annual event, The Ghost Walk. Visit Salem’s cemeteries to meet real characters from Salem’s past!

Deadline to Order Brick Pavers for Engraving for the Holidays
Friday, November 2

Engraved brick pavers create a lasting legacy. Add your name, or the name of someone special to you in our Main Walkway or Veterans’ Plaza. Each engraved brick paver is $150, which includes the cost of the paver, the engraving, and a donation to the Salem Museum & Historical Society. Your gift ensures that both your legacy—and our community’s rich history—are preserved for future generations. Download a form to place your order.

Salem Museum Speaker Series
The Surprising Role of Virginians in the Great War
Annual Meeting: November 19 at 6:30 pm
Talk: November 19 at 7 pm

In this illustrated lecture, Lynn Rainville reveals the crucial roles that Virginians played in the Great War. These individuals ranged from soldiers to politicians, and from locally born horses to their ferriers. These patriots also included female stenographers, African American doctors, domestic gardeners, National Guard troops, and army chaplains. Of these hundreds of thousands of volunteers, more than 3,600 lost their lives as a direct result of the war, yet many of their sacrifices have been forgotten. Rainville will conclude her talk with a study of statues erected in Virginia after the war to reveal a more complete story of service and sacrifice during the Great War.

Dr. Lynn Rainville is Acting Dean of Sweet Briar College, the Director of the Tusculum Institute and a fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. She is the author of Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia and Virginia and the Great War: Mobilization, Supply and Combat, 1914–1919.