Advantage Valley’s diverse arts scene offers a rich tapestry of experiences
Galleries, museums, musical performances and festivals throughout Advantage Valley give people of all ages plenty of opportunities to experience the region’s arts and culture.
Huntington and Charleston are at the center of Advantage Valley’s arts and entertainment scene.
The Huntington Museum of Art, the largest art museum in West Virginia, includes a permanent art collection of over 16,000 objects, 10 exhibition spaces and an art reference library of nearly 27,000 volumes. In Charleston, residents enjoy The West Virginia State Museum at The Culture Center. Here, they can peruse the museum’s exhibits, which focus on West Virginia’s history, culture, art, paleontology, archaeology and geology, all of which represent the region’s people, land and industries.
Additionally, Blenko Glass Company, located in Milton, is a must-visit. Internationally known for its handcrafted items, this family-owned company has been creating beautiful designs since 1893. And they create just about everything – think vases, pavers, rondels, water bottles, garden spears and even stained-glass windows.
The Birke Art Gallery at Marshall University displays works created by students in the School of Art & Design, among other things, and the university’s Visual Arts Center is a jewel downtown.
“It brought a new vibrancy and helped transform our downtown,” says Tyson Compton, president of the Huntington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “That same vibrant feeling comes to life in their gallery.”
The building is adjacent to Huntington’s Pullman Square and serves as the primary home of Marshall’s arts programs. The ground floor features retail space and the Charles W. and Norma C. Carroll Gallery.
Huntington’s Central City Antiques District, where artists and artisans display and sell their crafts, is a popular destination for residents and visitors. Central City is taking on a new moniker – 14th Street West – and is poised to become that must-visit location ripe with antiques, art, food and local culture, Compton says.
Charleston’s Juliet Art Museum at the Clay Center hosts traveling exhibits from artists and museums nationwide, along with works from its excellent permanent collection. The Erma Byrd Gallery on the campus of the University of Charleston is home to 155 pieces of art created exclusively by West Virginia women artists.
A signature arts event in the region is FestivALL, a multi-arts, multi-venue summer festival and fall mini-festival. FestivALL transforms Charleston into a work of art. Partnering with more than 90 arts and community organizations and hundreds of local, regional, national and international artists, FestivALL is spread over 15 days in June and features more than 100 events and 300 performances, along with music, theater and dance exhibitions.
The performing arts take center stage in Advantage Valley and include the West Virginia Symphony, Charleston Ballet, River City Youth Ballet, Charleston Light Opera Guild, Alban Arts Center and Kanawha Players Theatre. Performances are held in the region’s excellent venues, including the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, LaBelle Theatre and Clay Center.