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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 through the will of 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 25,000 pieces, about one third of which is on display at any given time. The museum chronicles the exploration and development of the region 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, quilt show, music festival and outdoor exhibits. The museum sells archival supplies and offers the opportunity to have pictures of collection pieces copied. Also offered are a unique gift shop and a Victorian Parlor Conference Room available for rent by calling the museum.
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