The latest exhibit upgrade at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park mixes new technology with historic artifacts to give visitors to the site an in-depth look at the story of coal mining in Southwest Virginia. The centerpiece of the new display is an interactive computer program, housed in a replica of a coal car. Using touch-screen technology, visitors can navigate through four multi-media interpretive programs designed to tell the story of coal and the men who worked the mines.
The programs trace the development of the coalfields in Southwest Virginia, introduce the concept of the “coal camps,” or company towns that were built around the region, offer a glimpse into life in the coal camps, and illuminate the work of the “men of the deep” – the miners themselves. A series of interpretive panels and accompanying artifacts from the coal mines complete the new exhibit.
The tools of the mining trade take center stage: picks, augers, drills, helmets and lanterns are all on display. Company “script” – currency used by workers in company stores – is also on view. Photographs and descriptive text help to present the story of the industry that defines this region and the people who make their living mining coal. This new exhibit is the latest in a series of upgrades being made at the Southwest Virginia Museum.
The coal touch screen kiosk was designed by Imperial Multimedia and funded by the Slemp Foundation. Future plans include the installation of a hands-on children’s area and the addition of a Native American exhibit.
For more information about the Southwest Virginia Museum and its exhibits and programs, please visit the Virginia State Parks website at www.viriginiastateparks.gov or the Friends of the Museum website at www.swvamuseum.org. .