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“A gem!”

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Ranked #1 of 45 things to do in Winchester
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) is dedicated to preserving and enriching the cultural life and heritage of the Valley. This regional history complex includes a house dating to the eighteenth century, six acres of spectacular gardens, and a 50,000-square-foot museum featuring changing exhibitions, a permanent display of miniature houses, and an expansive gallery exploring the history and decorative arts of the Shenandoah Valley. The MSV also includes a Museum Store and café (admission not required). The galleries are open year-round; the house and gardens April through October. The MSV sits on land originally claimed by Winchester founder James Wood in 1735. The property was passed through generations of Wood and Glass families until being acquired by Wood descendant and MSV benefactor Julian Wood Glass Jr. (1910–1992) between 1952 and 1955. Glass and his partner at the time, R. Lee Taylor (1924–2000), worked together to transform the site and its Glen Burnie House—built in 1794 by James Wood’s son Robert—into a country retreat where the couple entertained in high style. 
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Activities for older children
Aldie, Virginia
Level Contributor
172 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
“A gem!”
Reviewed September 4, 2011

If you are a AAA member, show your membership ID to get a $2 discount. All of the volunteers and staff we interacted with were incredibly pleasant and helpful. Our favorite part was the gardens--they are beautifully maintained. The Grand Allee is stunning! The tour of the house is limited to the first floor only, but the volunteer docent was knowledgeable and personable. He let us know that the house will be closing soon for some updates, so you may wish to check before heading out to see it. The actual museum was meticulously maintained, and took us about a half hour to walk through.
The cafe was reasonably priced and good, and has soups, sandwiches, salads, and teas.
We don't have kids, but in my estimation, this would be a little bit boring for younger children. Older kids would do fine, and anyone interested in history, art, and/or gardening will have a wonderful experience.

Visited September 2011
Helpful?
1 Thank SwissMiss24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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387 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Beach Front
Level Contributor
16 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Top notch museum and gardens”
Reviewed August 21, 2011

The museum was a wonderful surprise. Very modern and well planned. Extremely kid friendly. Very informative and interesting with knowledgable guides. We loved the gardens. Must go back when we have more time to spend the day and tour the house. I would recommend this museum as a must see event in Winchester!

Visited August 2011
Helpful?
Thank gotmyredshoeson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
156 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“Wonderful Place to visit, loved the gardens”
Reviewed August 21, 2011

I never would have visted if it had been for a recommendation from my parents, and I am so glad I that I went. Very beautiful spot. This can go toe to toe with any Smithosian museum and not crowds.

Visited August 2011
Helpful?
Thank Travelqueen8882
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
38 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“great house, wonderful gardens”
Reviewed August 19, 2011

The house tour starts with a brief video explaining the history of the house and grounds, featuring an interview with the garden's long-time (and late) caretaker. In the nearby carriage house there's a nice model of the house. It's worth checking out since only the lower floor of the house is open to visitors due to local fire regulations.

The volunteer docent led us through the first floor, noting that Julian Wood Glass Jr. - the home's last family owner - fixed up the house after it sat boarded up for over 40 years. Glass didn't set out to restore it to any particular period of its 200+ year history, rather redid it to be like an English noble's country estate.

The house will close in November 2011 for repair and renovations, including much-needed air conditioning. This will take about 3 years, so if you want to see the house, go now or wait til 2014!

The gardens are quite nice, and the docent pointed out that the grounds are a popular wedding venue. (There were still stacks of chairs from a ceremony the previous morning.) While the docent pointed out a few things immediately surrounding the house, the tour is self-guided, though an audio tour is available at the gate for a nominal charge. The rose garden is well done, and the asian and water gardens shouldn't be missed. Its apparent that the landscapers worked with the rocky terrain rather than fight it, designing around rock outcroppings and incorporating them in to the plan.

If you plan on visiting, check the weather forecast! They close the gardens - and the house - if there's thunder in the area. I found out the hard way on my first visit.

Visited August 2011
Helpful?
1 Thank NoVA_Alex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
38 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“gem of a museum”
Reviewed August 13, 2011

This museum is quite a gem. Its exhibits touch on the valley's natural history and its inhabitants, including the personal collection of one of the museum's benefactors who lived in the nearby Glen Burnie mansion.

All of the exhibits are on the second floor, and it took me about 1 1/2 hours to see it all. It's very well done and engaging. The short 4-part film on the Civil War is very enjoyable. Several families were there and their kids really seemed to enjoy the central gallery that covers the Valley's history.

The museum has a small cafe on the ground floor. The menu isn't very extensive - some sandwiches, salads and a few quiches. There is however, an impressive selection of loose-leaf teas. A scone (with jam and clotted cream) and 2-cup pot will set you back $7.50.

There's a AAA discount available, which makes the house/garden/museum combo ticket $10 for adults.

If you plan on visiting the house and/or gardens, check the weather forecast! They close the gardens - and the house - if there's thunder. Storms forced them to close shortly after I arrived, and they happily refunded that part of my admission.

Visited August 2011
Helpful?
1 Thank NoVA_Alex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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