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

Current Exhibitions

2022 West Virginia Emerging Artists Juried Exhibition

Currently on display in the Commissioner’s Gallery of the West Virginia State Museum at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. This year’s exhibition features 58 creative pieces representing the talents of 44 West Virginia artists from 19 counties. Eligible artists had to be 18 years of age and older and maintain a permanent domicile in West Virginia. Each artist could submit two pieces for the exhibit jurying in painting, print/drawing, mixed media, craft/wall hangings, photography, digital art and/or sculpture. All pieces must have been created between 2020 and 2022.

The juror for this year’s Emerging Artists Exhibition was Lauren Frances Adams. Adams teaches full-time at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Md. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she trained in mural painting, and from Carnegie Mellon University with a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2007. Her work has been exhibited widely in artist-run spaces, historic houses, university galleries, museums and public spaces. Adams has been a visiting artist and critic at Valand Academy in Sweden, Funen Academy in Denmark, and at universities, colleges and museums throughout the United States. Adams has exhibited at the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Warhol Museum, Nymans House National Trust in England, Royal NoneSuch Gallery, The Mattress Factory, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Smack Mellon, and CUE Art Foundation. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and has held residencies at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, La.; Cité internationale des Arts in Paris, France; Sacatar Foundation in Bahia, Brazil; and Back Lane West in Cornwall.

The exhibit will be on display until April 15, 2023.

 Medium and the Visual Arts Exhibition

Artistic mediums have historically played a key role in defining what is and is not considered art. The medium, whether a paint, ink, or marble, would indicate to the viewer that they are looking at an artwork. Over the years, artists have evolved and expanded their idea of mediums to include everything from ancient and traditional artistic mediums to unconventional and found objects. The attributes of artistic mediums and the relationship they have with the artist and the artwork have been a point of interest for artists, critics, and philosophers throughout history.

While contemporary artists continue to push the boundaries of what they can utilize to make art, traditional artistic mediums are still widely used by the majority of artists. Within the world of traditional artistic mediums, the unique properties and characteristics of each one affect the finished work in sometimes subtle, and other times vastly different ways. Artists also become adept at manipulating their mediums of choice to achieve their desired results. The aim of this exhibit is to focus specifically on how traditional, two-dimensional mediums are different in their technical aspects and how that affects the finished artwork. On display in the Balcony Gallery through February 2023.

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.

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

Playing in the Mountains: The Pastimes of West Virginia will open soon in the Theater Gallery.

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.