The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will unveil a new exhibit, The Chemical Valley: West Virginia’s Gift to the World, on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The public is invited to view the exhibit during an opening reception beginning at 2 p.m. that day. The exhibit will be on display through May 6.

The new exhibit will feature the many contributions and developments made by the manufacturing and chemical industries of West Virginia and particularly those companies located in the Kanawha Valley. Items on display will include a circa 1958 model of Union Carbide’s Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturing Unit as well as a firefighting system used in 1940 at DuPont Belle Works and an early salt pot. The main wall of the exhibit will be set up to resemble a laboratory complete with beakers and flasks.

In celebration of the International Year of Chemistry in West Virginia, visitors also will see a collection of tools, products, photographs and documents from the 20th century when the Kanawha Valley was considered the chemical center of the world. The International Year of Chemistry is a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind.

The reception will feature several guest speakers as well as provide opportunities for former and current workers to document on videotape their reflections on what it is like to work in the chemical industry. Recording sessions will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from noon to 5 p.m.

The reception is being sponsored and coordinated by the American Chemistry Council, the Chemical Alliance Zone, the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, TechConnectWV, Dow Chemical, MATRIC, West Virginia State University, Marshall University, the South Charleston Museum Foundation and other partners.

For more information about the exhibit and recording sessions, contact Charles Morris, director of museums, 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.