Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park

Quick Facts

Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park


(276) 523-1322

Map Directions

Things To Do



The museum is housed in a mansion built in the 1880s by Rufus Ayers, a Virginia attorney general. The museum was acquired by the commonwealth in 1946 from the Slemp Foundation, established by C. Bascom Slemp, private secretary to President Calvin Coolidge and a member of the U. S. Congress. The museum was officially dedicated by the state in 1948. It features a collection comprised of more than 20,000 pieces, about one third of which is on display at any given time. The museum chronicles the exploration and development of the town and surrounding area during the 1890s coal boom, as well as the pioneer period. It offers activities for kids, scout and school programs, workshops, an annual Festival of Trees program and a walking tour of the grounds. The museum sells archival supplies and offers the opportunity to have pictures of collection pieces copied, as well as copies of reference files. Also offered is a unique gift shop and a Victorian Parlor Conference Room available for rent by calling the museum.

Map of Southwest Virginia Museum Historical (VA)

Latitude, Longitude: 36.863485, -82.779450



  • Hiking

    The museum is an Audubon Bird Sanctuary, and many various songbirds can be seen on the grounds. A permanent outdoor exhibit, the Southwest Virginia Walk of Fame, showcases the region's heritage. The exhibit advances the knowledge, awareness and appreciation of renowned Southwest Virginians, past and present, who have made significant contributions to the commonwealth, the nation and the world.

  • Historic Sites

    The museum offers a variety of workshops, children's activities, musical offerings and interpretive programs throughout the year.

  • Picnicking

    The museum's beautifully maintained grounds are ideal for a picnic. The Victorian Garden has tables and chairs for up to 18 people and is perfect for outdoor weddings.


Park is closed during January and February and on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Hours of operation: Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fri, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the museum is also open on Mondays from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Park Partners



The museum is in Big Stone Gap, off U. S. 23, at the corner of W. First Street and Wood Avenue. It is 14 miles south of Norton and 35 miles northwest of Kingsport, Tenn. The facility is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Neighboring areas of Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina are only a one to two hour drive away. Its address is 10 West First Street, North Big Stone Gap, VA 24219.

Phone Numbers


(276) 523-1322