801 East Main Street
Salem, Virginia 24153
(540)389-6760 info@salemmuseum.org


A Sampling of Past Exhibits at The Salem Museum

History of Salem exhibit

Twenty Decades: A History of Salem through 200+ Years
Did you know that Salem was the home of Revolutionary War hero Andrew Lewis? That silent film star Charlie Hammitt and Hollywood heartthrob John Payne were from Salem? That in the Civil War the town was raided by Union soldiers?

The story of Salem’s past is the story of all of us —an American hometown carved from the wilderness when the nation was new, growing through the years but retaining her own unique charm. Come trace her history from the days of Totera Indians to modern times in our exhibit “Twenty Decades.”

African American Experience Community and Courage: The African- American Experience in Salem
In 1868, freed slaves in Salem purchased land from the estate of their former master. Those purchases became the genesis of the Water Street Community—Salem’s premiere African-American neighborhood. Here homes, churches, businesses, schools and social organizations flourished in the face of segregation. Through generations of slavery, injustice, and finally Civil Rights victories, the citizens of Water Street persevered and built a sense of community that has endured.

Vanished Salem: Late Lamented Local Landmarks: This 2012 exhibit, one of the Museum's most popular ever, explored some of the local businesses, homes, churches, schools and institutions which once graced our landscape but which are no longer here.

Learn and Play Grandma's Way! An Exploration of how Things Used to Be Done
Rotary dial phones, manual typewriters, toys that don't take batteries, schoolrooms with no internet--how did our grandparents live like this?
Black Women: Achievement Against the Odds

An exhibition featuring the achievements of black women in the areas of art, education, civil rights, business, medicine, literature, entertainment, government, journalism, labor, and law. Developed by the Smithsonian Institute, distributed by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and supplemented by a display of artifacts interpreting the local history of African American women.

From Doodads to Deeds: A Hodge Podge of Relics from the Salem Museum Collection

An exhibit showcasing local items from the odd to the absurd which have found their way into the Salem Museum's collection over the years. Featuring a special "Whatzit Corner" contest.

Women for All Seasons: Artwork from the Salem Women Watercolorists Calendar

Calendar CoverAn exhibition and silent auction of watercolors by fourteen local women artists created for the Salem Museum's 1998 calendar. All proceeds from the Women for All Seasons Calendar & auction support the operations of the Salem Museum & Historical Society.

Vigilance and Valor: Public Safety in Salem

An exhibit tracing the long history of Salem's police, fire and rescue squad departments.

To End all Wars: World War I and the Roanoke Valley
An exhibit exploring how the Great War affected us, and how the part our doughboys played.

The Men Who Were Mayor
Exploring the local leaders of Salem from 1849 to the present.

Who Was I? An exploration of Unidentified Photos
We all have them-- old photos showing people from the past and we have no idea who they are. We gave Salem High School students a stack of these from our collection, and asked them to invent identities for the unknown folks. The results varied from the heart-rending to the whimsical!

Making Waves:The Valley's Radio and Recording History
In 1924 Ray Jordan played "Turkey in the Straw" on station 3BIY in Roanoke; total audience: one radio in Salem. But it started a revolution in the way the Valley got news, listened to music, and experienced the world!
Diamonds in the Rough: A Century of Baseball in the Valley
Baseball exhibitFor generations Salemites have thrown horse-hide covered spheres at men with sticks. Our Summer 1999 featured exhibit told the story of baseball in Salem and the Roanoke Valley, from the first recorded game soon after the Civil War, up to the current Salem Avalanche minor league franchise.

Y2Kids: Through The Eyes of our Children

At the dawn of a new century, we gave cameras to twelve school kids from first grade to seniors in High School and asked them to capture what Salem meant to them. The results was a glorious look at an American hometown through the eyes of the children who lived there.

50 Years Later: The Korean War Remembered by Valley Soldiers

Korean War exhibitLong called the Forgotten War, the history of America's combat in Korea was told thorugh this featured exhibit marking the war's 50th anniversary. A chronological history of the Korean Conflict was punctuated with the experiences of local vets, including survivors of the Chosin Reservoir, one the war's most savage battles.

To Build Better Boys: A Century of Boy Scouting in the Roanoke Valley
In 1911 the first Boy Scout troop was formed in Salem. Over the next 100 years, thousands of local boys learned to camp, tie knots, and do a good turn daily.

Civic Dreams and Unsightly Scenes: Envisioning a New Valley, 1928-1931. An evocative exhibit based on a rare collection of photos in our archive from the Roanoke Planning and Zoning Commission, documenting how our community looked in that crucial stage of development, and including some "unsightly scenes" which desperately needed correction.