A! Magazine for the Arts

William King Museum receives grant

July 27, 2017

The Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation has awarded $5,000 to William King Museum of Art, Abingdon, Virginia, for the development of the Heritage Express program, which will bring Southwest Virginia fourth graders to the museum to learn about state and local history. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of Richmond-based company Dominion Energy.

As the only nationally accredited fine arts museum in far Southwest Virginia, WKMA brings world-class fine art to an under-served region, and preserves and promotes the region's cultural heritage through the Cultural Heritage Project. Since its launch in 1994, the CHP has resulted in the survey, preservation and display of a collection of objects produced in 19th and early 20th-century Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, including furniture, pottery, textiles, paintings, hunting rifles, photographs and more; a digital archive that records the history, provenance and ownership of those objects; two books on the material culture and decorative arts of the region – "Great Road Style" and "Backcountry Makers" - and 35+ exhibitions and counting.

The Betsy K. White Cultural Heritage Gallery-the museum's newest addition-is set to open in December of this year and will be the flagship asset of the CHP. The gallery will also be the centerpiece for the in-development Heritage Express program. By experiencing the new gallery, completing lessons that supplement the state's Standards of Learning and doing hands-on projects, students learn appreciation for the richness of Appalachian heritage and culture.

Delegate Todd Pillion says, "Recognizing and appreciating our unique cultural heritage and identity is a key component of economic development and diversification in Southwest Virginia. With this new gallery and program for students, William King Museum of Art will have a unique role in highlighting the work ethic and resolve of generations of Appalachians, showing how they worked and lived."

Heritage Express builds on WKMA's award-winning VanGogh Outreach program, which since 1998 has delivered arts education across the curriculum to area second and third graders. WKMA Executive Director Betsy White started VGO and is now working to implement Heritage Express in the spring of 2018. She says, "The Dominion Foundation's grant is a much-appreciated source of initiating funding for this exciting project as well as an endorsement of its value to the region."