The Culture Center at the State Capitol Complex will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a gala exhibit opening and family activities for people of all ages on Saturday, July 9, and Sunday, July 10. The weekend extravaganza is free and the public is invited to attend.

On Saturday, the West Virginia State Museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can see community theater members from 9 to 11 a.m. portraying West Virginians from a particular time frame including a frontiersman, boardinghouse owner, chemical industry worker and a sit-in participant at a soda shop. At 11 a.m., Bryan Ward, assistant director of archives and history, will present a program in the library highlighting “Gems from the Archives and History Collection.” Items that will be on display include a letter from the Wright Brothers Cycle Company requesting the price for West Virginia spruce, a telegram announcing the death of Abraham Lincoln and the capture of John Wilkes Booth, and the executive journal started by the first governor, Arthur I. Boreman.

Art activities will take place in the Great Hall beginning at 1 p.m. At 2 p.m., visitors can hear comments and discussion from the five commissioners of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History including Norman L. Fagan (1976-1989); Bill Drennen (1989-1997); Renay Conlin (1997-2000); Nancy Herholdt (2001-2004); and Randall Reid-Smith (2006-present).

A gala reception and program for the exhibit, Celebrating 35 Years of the Culture Center, will round out the day’s activities beginning at 6 p.m. Visitors can see items from Blenko Glass, Homer Laughlin China, Fenton Glass, Marble King, Whitewater Rafting, West Virginia State Parks and Forests, The Greenbrier Resort, Ron Hinkle Glass, Fiestaware’s 75th anniversary, the skiing industry, the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia National Guard. There will be a special musical program in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at 7 p.m. with the Appalachian Children’s Chorus, an ensemble from the West Virginia Symphony and country music singer Matt Jones.

On Sunday, July 10, the museum will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Families will have access to flip video cameras to use in the museum, and can download their video and take it home. They also will have the opportunity to make a videotape of “What West Virginia Means to Me.” There will be a film festival featured in the Education Media Room, and children can participate in “West Virginia Journeys,” a program where they receive a journal that can be stamped, like a passport, when they attend special events in the museum.

The State Historic Preservation Office has prepared a “Do-It-Yourself” Scavenger Hunt of architectural features such as sculptures and columns at the Capitol Complex. The booklet also has family activities like word searches, puzzles, archaeology lessons and more.

For more information about the 35th Anniversary Celebration of the Culture Center, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner of the Division, at (304) 558-0220.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.