A! Magazine for the Arts

'The Long Rifle' is on exhibit at  William King Museum of Art.

'The Long Rifle' is on exhibit at William King Museum of Art.

The Long Rifle in Virginia is on exhibit

March 27, 2022

The long rifle was a surprise factor in winning American independence. A distinctive product of the backcountry of Pennsylvania and the Southern colonies, this celebrated rifle was essential for survival on the frontier. “The Long Rifle in Virginia,” is on display at William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, Virginia, April 1 – Oct. 31.

“The Long Rifle in Virginia” showcases more than three dozen curated long rifles and accoutrements from the 18th and 19th centuries that have never before been assembled in the same exhibition. The exhibition explores the artistry of Virginia gunsmiths through demonstrations, a symposium and a recreated gunsmith shop on location.

Individual gunmakers and some families of gunsmiths brought their own distinctive personalities to the process of rifle making at various locations along the “Great Wagon Road,” from Philadelphia to the mouth of the Shenandoah Valley near Winchester, to Southwest Virginia at Abingdon and through to the Cumberland Gap. Assembled from the collections of numerous long rifle owners and museums, “The Long Rifle in Virginia” presents a collection from early gunmakers to illustrate and differentiate the individuality of their work.

Wallace B. Gusler, renowned scholar on 18th-century firearms and retired master gunsmith, curator of furniture and arms, and director of conservation at colonial Williamsburg, noted that colonial American gunmakers controlled one niche of the gun market: rifle making. “The long rifle was the only gun made in numbers in America in the 1700s,” Gusler said. “During its time, it was the highest expression of the gunmaker’s art in this country.”

For more information, call 276-628-5005 or visit williamkingmuseum.org. “The Long Rifle in Virginia” exhibition is made possible through funding from The Bank of Marion and Virginia Humanities and is part of the McGlothlin Exhibition Series.