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Creative Culture Thrives in Advantage Valley

Museums, galleries and more make this West Virginia region a haven for artists and aficionados.

By Rebecca Treon on November 18, 2021

A sculpture by artist Albert Paley outside the Clay Center in West Virginia.
Jeff Adkins

The Advantage Valley region of West Virginia is home to diverse and vibrant communities that support artists and creatives.

The region is peppered with places to view, purchase or create art as well as simply spend time exploring the rich and varied artwork that comes from the region and beyond.

“Creative types are welcome here. It’s quite an eclectic community, and it’s been enjoying a sort of creative renaissance over the past 15 or so years,” says John Farley, senior curator and exhibition designer at the Huntington Museum of Art. “Folks who are not local to us would be welcome and find a community that is receptive to new ideas.”

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Jeff Adkins

Galleries and Museums in Charleston

The museums in Charleston, WV are outstanding. Be sure to visit the Juliet Art Museum at the Clay Center, which hosts rotating exhibits from national artists and has a permanent collection that is put on display in fresh ways every few months.

Also in Charleston, check out the Erma Byrd Art Gallery, which is home to almost 200 works of art created exclusively by women artists from the state.

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Sadie Helmick

Museums and More in Huntington

If you’re looking for a great museum in Huntington, WV, make sure to visit the Huntington Museum of Art, the state’s largest. It is known for its extensive firearms collection and works by American impressionists as well as exhibitions and programming from local and regional artists.

“The museum is the jewel of the city, certainly, and really quite an exceptional institution to be had within the state, too,” Farley says. “We have an eclectic collection of art with many different areas of emphasis, and our programming reflects that and makes it really accessible to people.”

In Huntington, the region’s largest university has made the arts a focal point by repurposing a former department store and making it the home of its art department. Marshall Visual Arts Center is located off campus in Huntington’s downtown, helping to revitalize an area that fell into disrepair in the 1970s and 80s.

“The Visual Arts Center is a really important part of Huntington. The community is welcome here, and we have students coming from small, isolated communities and feel drawn to art here.”

Sandra Reed | Marshall University

Today, it’s at the heart of Huntington, near a walkable, multiuse space that includes restaurants and shops. Featuring a (free) gallery on the first floor with exhibits from students and international artists alike, it’s become a fixture since its opening in 2014.

Another gem in Huntington is the Keith-Albee Theatre, which was built in 1928 and is regarded as one of the state’s most distinctive landmarks. A number of iconic entertainers performed here before the theatre closed in 2006. Now, it is owned and operated by the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Foundation, which has worked hard to renovate the building. And today, the theatre features a range of national and local productions and film festivals and hosts concerts, corporate events, weddings, and more.

One more popular Huntington attraction is the Old Central City Antiques District, where artists and makers sell their crafts. Known as the antiques capital of the tristate, the neighborhood features antique shops, boutiques, restaurants and a farmers market.

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