On January 24, the traveling exhibit Robert C. Byrd: Senator, Statesman, West Virginian opened at a reception hosted by Wheeling Jesuit University. This venue marks the first stop for the traveling exhibit in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle. As we celebrate the centennial of Senator Byrd’s birthday in 2017, it is fitting to make a stop in the political birthplace of West Virginia.
Wheeling is a historic industrial city and transportation hub, the site of the western terminus of the National Road and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The city was also the site of the Wheeling Convention of 1861, establishing the Restored Government of Virginia (1861-1863) which ultimately became the state of West Virginia in 1863. The convention and subsequent constitutional convention took place in the city’s customs house (today designated the West Virginia Independence Hall) and Wheeling served as the first capital for the new state.
After wrapping our early-summer showings of the exhibit at Parkersburg and Beckley, the traveling exhibit returned to the Byrd Center in Shepherdstown for a few weeks before embarking to Bluefield, located at the southern edge of West Virginia along its border with Virginia. The journey to Bluefield takes one through the picturesque peaks of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain ranges and the city, long-branded as "nature's air conditioned city" is situated in a scenic valley.
Following the debut of the traveling exhibit as part of the Allied Art Festival in Parkersburg, West Virginia, we packed up the second copy of the exhibit for our first trip into the southern region of the state. On Friday, June 10, the exhibit opened during a reception at the Tamarack Conference Center in Beckley, West Virginia.