West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) will host a news conference at its Wheeling facility, West Virginia Independence Hall Museum, next Thursday, April 26, at 11:30 a.m. Governor Joe Manchin III will make an announcement regarding 13 West Virginia Civil War regimental flags which have been conserved by textile conservator Fonda Thomsen, owner and director of Textile Preservation Associates, Inc., of Keedysville, Md. The WVDCH is partnering with the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation to launch an exhibit of these rare flags in the Wheeling facility.
The Governor requested the appropriation for the exhibit design and installation by a professional museum exhibit design/fabrication firm. He also requested and received additional monies to install a new HVAC system that will stabilize temperature and humidity levels to museum standards at one of the state’s most historic buildings, the 150-year-old West Virginia Independence Hall.
In addition to the Governor, participants available for comment will include Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Melissa Brown, site manager of West Virginia Independence Hall Museum and Linda Comins, president of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation.
When it is completed, the new exhibit will feature the flags displayed in specially designed pressure-mounted frames, with a state-of-the art, motion-activated lighting system to help protect the fabric. Expanding upon the existing statehood exhibits at Independence Hall, the flag display also will include historic photos and documents about individual soldiers and regiments, as well as interactive displays that will allow visitors to learn more about the Civil War and its soldiers.
West Virginia Independence Hall Museum was selected for the exhibit both because of its connection to the Civil War in West Virginia and because there is space at the facility to display a number of the flags, many of which are more than six feet long.
The conservation project undertaken by Textile Preservation Associates, Inc. was funded in part by a Save America’s Treasures grant from the National Park Service. The WVDCH and the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation partnered to raise the required matching funds for conserving the flags.
For more information, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner of the WVDCH, at (304) 558-0220.
West Virginia Independence Hall Museum, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, and located on the Civil War Discovery Trail, the museum is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., with the exception of major holidays. The museum is located on the corner at 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.
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. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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