Importance of Arts to Our Cultural History

When we talk about the value of arts and culture to society, we always start with its intrinsic value: how arts and culture can illuminate our inner lives and enrich our emotional world. This activity encompasses a broad range of disciplines that ranges from performing arts production and presentation, to visual arts exhibition, to arts education and arts in healthcare, to preservation and interpretation of our collective heritage. This is what we cherish.

However, we also understand that arts and culture have a wider, more measurable impact on our economy, health and wellbeing, society, and education. It is important we also recognize this impact to help people think of our arts and culture for what they are: a strategic national resource.

Essentially life without the collective resources of our arts communities would be static and sterile—no creative arguments about the past, no diverse and stimulating present and no dreams of the future.

For more information on our current, upcoming or past exhibitions, contact Laiken Blankenship, exhibits coordinator for the department, at (304) 558-0220 or laiken.j.blankenship@wv.gov.

Current Exhibitions

The 2022 Quilts and Wall Hangings Juried Exhibition, 41st annual, opened with an award ceremony Friday May 27th in the State Theater at the Culture Center. The free summer-long exhibition will be displayed through Sept. 13, 2022.

A quilting workshop was held on May 6 by Juror Linda Luggen titled “Ironing Out the Wrinkles.”


The Sounds of Music Exhibition is currently on display in the Theater Gallery of the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston through October 2022.

This exhibition utilizes the many artifacts from the collection such as parlor organ, roller gem organ, musical cylinders, early stereo’s, record players, musical instruments from donors. Additionally, the exhibition highlights donated musical instruments that pertain to Vandalia Gathering, as well as related musical instruments and artifacts, all from the State Museum’s collection. Finally, the exhibition also displays artifacts from various successful West Virginia performers including those that excelled such as Eleanor Steber, Randall Reid-Smith, and George Crum. 


The 2022 Almost Heaven Governor’s Art Exhibition is currently on display outside the Governor’s Office at the State Capitol in Charleston until September 2022. The exhibition is sponsored by Gov. Jim Justice, along with the West Virginia Department of Tourism and the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. Designed to showcase student creativity and the arts, this year’s exhibition called for one-of-a-kind postcard designs, depicting the theme: “What does America’s newest national park – the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve – mean to you?”

Awards were given to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in three divisions: Elementary School, Middle School, and High School. Winners will receive Blick Art Materials gift cards in the amounts of $100, $50, and $25, respectively. Selected postcard artwork will be used by the Department of Tourism to personally invite travelers to Almost Heaven, West Virginia.

You can view a virtual gallery here.


The Faces From the Past Exhibit is currently on display as of March 24, 2022 in the Commissioner’s Gallery of the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, in Charleston until November 2022. features West Virginians from three different centuries. The selection of art from various mediums had become part of the West Virginia State Museum collection through donations by families and organizations as well as purchases from past juried exhibitions.

There is a series of the Thomas family, who founded Stone & Thomas Department Store, from the mid-1800s; a self-portrait by Grace Martin Taylor; a painting of Poet Laureate Louise McNeil Pease; a painting of mathematical genius Lightning; and a painting of a young girl laid to rest by folk artist John Riley Fleming. These works and many more from notable West Virginia artists of the past are documented in the collection and have been selected for this exhibition.


Selections from the West Virginia State Museum Collections

West Virginia has a plethora of talented artists from many disciplines. This exhibit was created to display a small sample of the varying media that our collection houses. The works of Robert Villamagna, Vernon Howell, Susan Poffenbarger, Charly Jupiter Hamilton, and Charles Scott were chosen for this exhibition. The exhibit not only showcases the variety of talent WV Artists have to offer, but how their medium may change overtime. In this exhibit you will find a mix of both 2D and 3D pieces ranging from mixed media sculpture, wood carving, and pottery to watercolor, acrylic, and charcoal. The exhibit will be on display in the Balcony Gallery until mid-September.


West Virginia – A Scenic State of Mind

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History opened a new photography exhibit, “West Virginia – A Scenic State of Mind” on Saturday, July 16, 2022, in honor of the 45th anniversary celebration of the department. The exhibit will remain on display until October 16, 2022.

Forty-five photographers from across the Mountain State will be featured in the exhibit sharing some wonderful scenes of West Virginia. The invitational exhibit gives a glimpse of our beautiful state and will help commemorate 45 years of the department. Click here to see photos from the event opening.

Upcoming Exhibits

The Department of Arts, Culture and History is seeking entries for the 2022 Emerging Artists Juried Exhibition. Entries will be accepted from June 27 until September 2, 2022. The Jurying will occur in mid-September 2022 and the exhibition will open on November 13, 2022. 

The West Virginia 2022 Emerging Artists Juried Exhibition seeks to feature burgeoning new artistic talent. To be eligible to enter the exhibition, artists must be 18 years of age or older and must maintain a permanent domicile in West Virginia. Exceptions to this requirement are made for students and military personnel who have West Virginia resident status and a home address in the state.

Entries may be submitted for painting, print/drawing, mixed media, crafts/wall hangings, photography, digital art and sculpture. Entrants may submit two pieces for jurying. Entries must have been created within the last two years (2020 – 2022). Entrants must be listed on the West Virginia Artists Registry or must submit information for the registry along with the submissions for this exhibition. To register, submit a CD/DVD or USB memory stick with six examples of current work to the department by the exhibition’s entry date.

For more information, or to request an Artists Register form, contact Laiken Blankenship, WVDACH exhibits coordinator, at (304) 558-0220 or Laiken.J.Blankenship@wv.gov. Please see the 2022 Emerging Artists Prospectus Form for more information and entry.

Past Exhibits

Click here to view current and past Department of Arts, Culture and History exhibits and exhibitions. The Department of Arts, Culture and History youth programs exhibits can be viewed here.