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Governor Underwood awards $650,000 to Division to be used for State Museum renovation

Louis A. Capaldini, acting commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and Renay Conlin, chairman of The West Virginia State Museum Board, Incorporated, today announced that Governor Cecil H. Underwood has awarded $650,000 to the Division to be used toward the demolition, construction and fabrication of the new West Virginia State Museum. The money will come from the governor’s discretionary fund.

“Governor Underwood has been a strong proponent of plans to renovate the State Museum since I approached him about this project more than three years ago,” said Conlin. “He recognizes the benefits a newly renovated Museum will bring to tourism, business, recreation and our citizens’ overall quality of life and sees it as an investment in growth for the entire state.” A former commissioner of the Division of Culture and History, Conlin left that position in August to become general director of the Toledo Opera in Toledo, Ohio.

The 24-year-old West Virginia State Museum, located in the lower level of the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex, will soon undergo a complete renovation. The history of the state will be told in the new 23,000-square-foot museum through modern exhibits that will appeal to visitors of all ages. Currently in the final design phases, the project will be completed next year at an estimated cost of $6 million, $4 million of which was pledged by the West Virginia Legislature. The Museum Board established the Millennium Fund last year to raise funds necessary for the completion of the project.

“From the very beginning, this project has received unanimous support—throughout both the public and private sectors and across party lines,” said Capaldini. “Our state’s leaders are encouraging cooperation to serve the public interest and this project is a perfect example. The governor, the legislature, and the corporations and foundations that have given money for the renovation all view a new West Virginia State Museum as a wonderful gift to the state and its people.”

Conlin said the private campaign is proceeding well but that this award will help ensure the success of the project. The Museum Board has raised $1.065 million to-date and Conlin said their campaign will continue until all the funds necessary for the renovation are raised.

“We have a few new gifts we will be announcing in the coming weeks, so I feel very good about being able to maintain this momentum,” Conlin said. She added that the Museum Board still needs to raise at least $285,000 to secure the project.

Private-sector gifts to the museum campaign include: Clay Foundation ($350,000), The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation ($250,000), The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation ($150,000), Union Carbide Foundation ($100,000), The Bernard H. & Blanche E. Jacobson Foundation ($60,000), Farmer, Cline & Arnold ($50,000), American Electric Power ($40,000), Hugh I. Shott, Jr., Foundation ($25,000), McJunkin Corporation ($20,000). A number of smaller gifts from individuals rounds out the total pledged. In addition, Paul D. Marshall and Associates of Charleston donated architectural services to the project.

According to Capaldini, the Division is finalizing plans to keep some of the more popular elements of the current State Museum accessible to visitors during the renovation. Expanded programming for school groups also is being considered. He said details will be announced next month.

For more information about the renovation project, contact Capaldini at (304) 558-0220, ext. 112.

The West Virginia State Museum Board is a non-stock, non-profit corporation incorporated by the State of West Virginia in November 1999. Its purpose is to guide and support the West Virginia State Museum and to help the West Virginia Division of Culture and History fulfill its mission.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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