In The News!


Montgomery Museum of Art & History Receives Virginia Association of Museum’s 2023 Innovation Award for new Mental Health Series

Photo Credit: Charlie Whitescarver of Whitescarver Photography, LLC

The Montgomery Museum of Art & History has garnered state-wide recognition this week as it received the 2023 Innovation Award presented by the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM). The museum’s brand-new mental health series, “The Art of Happiness,” was awarded the Innovation Award for its contributions to Community Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion, and Audience Expansion. The Innovation Award is given each year at the annual VAM conference to one museum across the Commonwealth that demonstrates a commitment to use their platform as a trusted source of information to build relationships with its community and create long-term positive impacts for community members.

“The Art of Happiness” is an interactive series for adults that focuses on aspects of positive psychology and the role that art can play in our general happiness and well-being. The sessions are led by Shelby Wynn, a registered art therapist and licensed professional counselor. This series has included the use of visual music, mindfulness clay sculpture, coping with words to understand your thoughts and emotions, and Zentangles, a practice of mindful doodles that is useful when other coping skills are inaccessible. Support from the LewisGale Hospital Montgomery made this program series successful through a generous sponsorship, which enabled the museum to open up additional sessions.

Montgomery Museum Executive Director, Casey Jenkins, traveled to the annual VAM conference on March 13 to receive this prestigious award. “We are so proud of this new, innovative program series. It was amazing to see the interest and demand from everyone, especially young people who participated in these free sessions,” said Jenkins. “This award validates our important charge and mission to be a community-wide museum for everyone to be a part of and we are very grateful for the generous support given to us by LewisGale Hospital Montgomery.”

“The Art of Happiness” offers mental health self-help tactics and strategies by using art exhibits, materials, and spaces as helpful tools. Spots filled up quickly with enthusiastic support from the community.

A press conference was held in the main lobby of LewisGale Hospital Montgomery the morning of Wednesday, March 22. Community members, hospital staff, and museum board members were in attendance. VAM representative, John Long, presented the award to Jenkins and the Montgomery Museum. Jenkins and Board President, Jean Haskell, gave brief remarks and the press conference closed with remarks by hospital CEO, Lauren Dudley.

Media Contacts:

Casey Jenkins – Executive Director;; (540) 382-5644

Courtney Amos – Events and Marketing Coordinator;

Virginia Association of Museums’ Innovation Award.

The Montgomery Museum of Art and History is the 2023 recipient of the Virginia Association of Museums‘ Innovation Award. This prestigious award is given to one museum across the Commonwealth who demonstrates innovative and creative programming that brings impactful change to its community. The new program series, “The Art of Happiness” was selected for this award.
The “Art of Happiness” is a new, innovative art therapy program series designed to utilize museum spaces, exhibits, and materials as tools for experiential self-help and coping strategies. With generous support from the LewisGale Regional Health System (LewisGale Hospital Montgomery), this new series flourished as we saw high demand for this free community programming, which engaged individuals of all ages in the same space. The program offers avenues of art such as painting, sculpting, poetry, and more to raise awareness and enhance access to mental health resources through positive psychology. For more information on this program, please visit
Thanks to the generous support from LewisGale Regional Health System (LewisGale Hospital Montgomery), the museum was able to expand its programming by offering additional sessions due to high demand.
A brief award ceremony and press conference will be held at the LewisGale Hospital Montgomery on Wednesday, March 22, at 9:30 a.m., located at 3700 S. Main St. Blacksburg, VA 24060. ALL are welcome to attend!
LewisGale Hospital Montgomery is proud to support this important work in a non-traditional space such as a museum. Thank you!

Arts❤️NRV Market and Heritage Day Festival Event Sponsorship Opportunities

The Montgomery Museum of Art and History is gearing up for another spectacular year as we prepare an exciting slate of events in 2023 to celebrate our 40th anniversary!

Our major special events offer excellent visibility, exposure, and networking opportunities while simultaneously supporting our growing museum! I hope you will consider supporting the museum by sponsoring Arts❤️NRV Market and/or Heritage Day as an individual or organization.

  • Arts❤️NRV Market: A regional art showcase featuring 30+ juried artists and artisans from the New River Valley and Roanoke Valley (April 28/29). This event will feature children’s activities, wine garden, paint party,  and food trucks including Cabo Fish Taco and Sam’s Hot Dogs. More information can be found here. Estimated attendance: 500 people
  •  Heritage Day Festival: A street festival in downtown Christiansburg that celebrates the region’s heritage, history, and culture (August 19). This event will feature a beer garden, children’s activities, hay wagon rides, live music, silent auction, and many demonstrators and street vendors! More information can be found here. Estimated Attendance: 2,500 people.

Thank you so much for your consideration in helping us celebrate our 40th anniversary! This is sure to be another great year for the Montgomery Museum of Art and History. If you have any questions or would like to sponsor Arts NRV Market or Heritage Day, please reach out to or visit our sponsor homepage

Event sponsorships are a great way to help the museum celebrate its 40th anniversary and receive excellent exposure and publicity. Please reach out to Casey Jenkins at for more information on how the museum will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year!

With much gratitude,

Casey Jenkins



The Montgomery Museum of Art and History is delighted to be one of nine recipients awarded a grant through the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Foundation (IBMA) via the Arnold Shultz Fund.
The museum was awarded $2500 as a grant to develop a concert at the Moss Arts Center called, “Cultural Crossroads in Traditional Music”. This concert program will explore interactions and intersections between bluegrass music and African American, Indigenous First People, Hispanic/Latino, and European cultures. The concert will also include Junior Appalachian Musicians who will help celebrate the multi-cultural dimensions of traditional bluegrass through music, dance, and story-telling. The grant will fund additional staff time, travel stipends for committee members representing various cultures, and a marketing plan to reach and engage an inclusive audience with emphasis on children and young people. The concert date and time have not been scheduled yet, but the concert is expected to be presented in Fall 2023.
“We are delighted and honored to be included as an awardee of the Arnold Shultz Fund,” said Casey Jenkins, the Executive Director of the Montgomery Museum. “This grant will allow us to program and curate a very unique collaboration and blend of artists, cultures, and stories, that all intersect with traditional bluegrass music. We will also partner with other community agencies such as the Junior Appalachian Musicians of Montgomery County as well as the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation. These community partnerships will greatly enhance the concert program.”
The Montgomery Museum was the only recipient in Virginia. Other individual and organization grantees were from Alaska, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, California, and even two awardees from India and Kenya.
Arnold Shultz (1886 – 1931) was an African American musician from western Kentucky. Best known as an extraordinary guitarist and fiddle player, Shultz often played with Bill Monroe’s fiddle-playing uncle, Pendleton (“Pen”) Vandiver. It was at these gigs that Monroe met Arnold Shultz and began to emulate his backup guitar style. Shultz was impressed enough with Monroe’s progress that he hired Monroe to play guitar with him at dances, thereby giving Monroe his first jobs as a professional musician. Monroe often credited Shultz with influencing his approach to playing music.
For more information on the IBMA Foundation, visit Media

Christiansburg High School Art Show

The Montgomery Museum of Art and History (MMAH) is becoming a draw for local citizens.  An early reception in the new facility drew about 50 art lovers.  The next event attracted 100 people, and the most recent gathering more than 200.  The museum’s mission is to appeal to all citizens of all generations.  For years the museum has reached out to students throughout the New River Valley and intends to contact them about future exhibits.  The next art exhibit will feature works by students from Christiansburg High School grades 9 through 12.  Led by art teachers Carrie Lyons and Taylor Hanks, the students have been working hard to complete their works in time for the exhibit opening March 2 and continuing through April. The students are responsible for framing the art and hanging it in the museum.  By subject? By frame color? By theme?  There are lots of choices, and decisions on how to display the works are part of the artistry.


Those of us who live in Montgomery County are fortunate to have a school system that values and promotes the arts.  Some of the presenting students have taken Advanced Placement (college level) art class twice—once for painting and again for sculpture.  Students who can’t fit art into their schedule but still paint in their spare time can join the Art Club and submit works for inclusion in the show.


The variety of media in the show speaks to both the program’s broad educational reach and to the choice to let the more advanced students take the lead on what inspires and works for them.  For example, students made a still-life of a skull (à la Georgia O’Keefe) from the angle of their choice and zoomed in or out.  The viewer would not know they were painting the same thing.  The exhibit includes works in collage, gouache, ink, acrylic, watercolor, alcohol markers, and more.  An intricate work showing a lush garden scene was done with ink and a dip pen, which is something like a quill and not the easiest tool to use.  If you went to school before 1950 and the invention of the ball point pen, you may have struggled with one of these things.  The MMAH exhibit also features some three-dimensional art including sculpture and ceramics. There are cupcakes and pancakes and fabric dogs and ceramic pumpkins and a piece depicting Disney rides. A rendition of a eukaryotic cell is made from beads.


In some cases Lyons gave the students a broad theme to work with such as Journey or Sustained Investigation.  One journey painting shows a skeleton reaching out toward the path to be taken with a cat alongside as a companion.  Another painting from the journey series shows a shark in a coral reef and kelp forest with a volcano in the background.  A girl with an umbrella is another type of journey.  A sustained investigation painting of Notre Dame Cathedral depicted before and after the fire features the pieta sculpture “Descent from the Cross” that somehow survived the conflagration.


Many of the paintings feature objects or animals precious to the artist.  A deep sea fish painting is one example. Another artist painted a collection of her Bratz dolls sitting on a shelf, as in “putting away childish things.”  One painting is entitled “Fear of Cats.”  Another painting is of a German Shepherd that died.  Another maudlin puppy picture?  Hardly.  This dog repeatedly ran away and bit his owner, leaving a two-inch scar.  Still, he was loved and is missed, and now he is immortalized having fun with his owner in a lake.  A companion piece shows the town in Germany where the German Shepherds originated.


Christiansburg High School students will host (another part of the learning experience) an opening reception at the MMAH, 4 East Main Street in Christiansburg, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on March 2.  People will come to support the students and stay to enjoy the art.

Feb 1 ArtxHistory

Feb 1

The Montgomery Museum of Art & History will host an open house on Thursday, Feb. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. to launch two new art exhibits and two new history exhibits, collectively titled “Art x History.”

The museum will showcase a 1920 Maxwell automobile as the focal point on the main gallery floor. This extraordinary vehicle will be on display courtesy of Jackie Shelton and her family. In addition, the museum will bring back an old favorite, “Lewis Miller’s New River Valley.” Miller’s travel-journal-style artwork and sketches offer a glimpse of New River Valley history and stories.

On the art side, the museum will present works by two regional artists, David Petersen and Tom Jenssen. Petersen’s art exhibit, titled “Tranquility,” is a collection of local and distant “tranquil” places depicted in painting and photography, in color and black and white. Jenssen’s pottery exhibit, “From Earth to Stone,” features glazed ceramic with melted glass and painted imagery to offer the viewer a sense of wonder.

Jan 3 Dave Petersen

Jan 3



Tranquility.  If there is a theme to Dave Petersen’s new oil and photography show at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History, it is tranquility.

Most of these tranquil places can be found within a 50-mile radius of here, stretching from the Smokies to the Outer Banks.  If you have lived around here for even a short time, you will find yourself saying, “I know that place” or “I have seen that.” One recognizable place is the previous location for the MMAH, which was originally the home for a Presbyterian minister.  But on closer look, Petersen’s work may show a place like Mabry Mill or McAfee Knob in a different light or covered with snow or even the feathery hoar frost, which only forms under special cold conditions, usually at high elevations.

In order to catch the scene at the right time, Petersen, often accompanied by his son Paul, also a painter and photographer, sometimes endures harsh conditions and waits for the just right moment.  The pair often camp out and take a compass with them to determine where the sun will be in the morning.  Early Boy Scout training comes in handy.

“Low Clouds Over the Smoky Mountains” required such persistence. The pair drove up to Clingmans Dome in the Smokies to do some photography.  Once up on Clingmans Dome they were greeted with low clouds, heavy winds, and blowing rain.  After waiting over two hours and with the weather getting worse, they gave up and started driving back down to the campsite.  Just as they dropped below the clouds, they saw the distant mountains.  The wind and rain had stopped, and there Petersen took a picture that became the basis for the oil painting in this exhibit.

The upcoming show features both oil paintings and photography in about equal numbers, and about half of the photographs are in black and white.  Petersen has been compared to Ansel Adams, although the techniques used are different, as digital photography has changed the way artists work. Petersen’s photographs are often printed on stretch canvas.

About a quarter of the works depict scenes in the western United States, where the scenery is decidedly different from that in Virginia.   Art works depict tranquil places out west such as Glacier, Yellowstone, Death Valley, the Tetons, the Black Hills, or the deciduous rain forest on Mount Olympus in Washington.

Dave Petersen became interested in art in high school, where he was privileged to study under famed local artist Walter Biggs.  Another favorite muse is Richard Schmid, the impressionist or realist, depending upon whom you ask, known for his paintings of the west and the Hudson River Valley.  Petersen attended Virginia Western Community College and Madison College (now James Madison University), where he stayed on for a master’s degree, not in painting or photography, but in ceramics.  He decided not to pursue a career in ceramics, in part because the expensive gas-fired kilns available in college are not usually accessible to the individual artist.  Instead, Petersen taught himself photography.  Three years of technical drawing still influence his work, but he likes to loosen up when painting and leave the viewers to find their own paths.

Petersen taught high school art for twenty years and was an assistant principal in Blacksburg.  After retirement and the forced isolation necessitated by COVID, he has found more time to pursue his art, more “growing time” as he puts it, or time to reevaluate where to go next.  Half of his studio is relegated to photography and the other half to painting, so he seems to be going both directions.

Petersen said, “You can learn a lot about people by what they photograph.”   So, Dave Petersen must be a tranquil man.

Dave Petersen’s exhibit will be at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History at 4 East Main Street in Christiansburg from January 3 to February 27.  A public reception is being planned for February 2 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Jan 2 Tom Jenssen

Jan 2

Montgomery Museum of Art and History

“From Earth to Stone” by ceramist Thomas A. Jenssen

After retiring from the Biology Department at Virginia Tech in 2007, Tom Jenssen returned to an undergraduate interest in ceramics. His creations are thrown pieces to which are added glazes, melted glass, painted imagery, and “appropriated” objects. “Good Dog” is such an example, where a jar totes a family salt shaker on its lid. (This won 1st prize at the Radford City Fine Arts Show in 2018). Clearly, there is a playful nature here, but there can be more serious intent in other works, such as a panther stalking through a swampy habitat.

The animals depicted in the current exhibit range from the aquatic to the amphibious to the terrestrial.  Examples include a great white shark, sea turtle, octopus, rhinoceros, and giraffe. One piece even features a mermaid.  In each case, animal behavior and habitat are depicted with accuracy and detail (well, except for the mermaid!)

To produce the images, a slurry of iron oxides, a very fine paint brush, and a whole lot of patience were needed.

The animal-oriented theme resonates from Jenssen’s career in biology and from an interest set early as a youth. His family rented lakeside cabins for entire summers during which the boy was never seen in anything but his bathing suit. Swimming, catching turtles and frogs, exploring with his dog — these were the activities that set the stage for his career in field biology. There were mentors along the way, like John Goodman (University of Redlands), Charles Carpenter (Oklahoma University), and Ernest Williams (Harvard). With their guidance and example, Jenssen developed a consuming interest in evolutionary biology, herpetology, and, in particular, the behavior of lizards. It was the latter that took him to tropical habitats in Mexico, Panama, Hawaii, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

As a ceramist, Jensenn initially produced pieces that carried a whimsical sense with a touch of kitsch. More recently, however, topics have turned increasingly toward literal expression, as Jenssen continues to explore the traditional with the unexpected.

Take a close look at the black panther piece.  The panthers running around the base of the jar have the same musculature as the one on the lid, an object found in a tractor store.  Getting the dark color of the animal just right took many layers of black clay applied to the surface.  The panther images had to be carefully scratched into the surface of the clay.  This level of detail is unusual in ceramic art.  Notice, too, that the panther on the lid is not just standing there.  He has a foot resting on a log and seems to be standing in shallow water.  Panthers often live in swamps, so the panther is in his natural habitat.  He is at home.  The log was formed from red and black clay, the water was made from glass, and an extruding tool was used to make the vines.  Attention to detail and authenticity is a hallmark of the artist’s work.

Tom Jenssen’s ceramic pieces are on display until the end of March at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History, 4 East Main Street in Christiansburg, Virginia.  A public reception will be held on February 2 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.


Dec 22 Emerging Leaders

Dec 22

Start off the new year with the Montgomery Museum of Art & History as we host a night of networking and conversation for young adults in our community.
Our Emerging Leaders Open House will take place Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at our new location, 4 East Main St. in downtown Christiansburg.

Enjoy appetizers and adult beverages on the house, and experience our new facility and exhibits as we share our vision for 2023 and explore how to better engage young adults in Montgomery County and the New River Valley.
This event also serves as an interest meeting for our Emerging Leaders Advisory Board. In 2023, the museum is creating a board of leaders aimed at enhancing the accessibility, involvement and engagement of young adults. This is a great way to start demonstrating leadership potential and gain experience to eventually serve on a nonprofit board while giving back to your community!

NRV Black History Collection of books and pamphlets.

NRV Black History Collection of books and pamphlets.

Press release:


The Education Committee of the Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County Branch of the NAACP (MRF Branch) has organized the NRV Black History Collection of books and pamphlets.  The purpose of the collection is to make local African American history more accessible to the community by providing resources to local museums. The public, students, and community groups can gather to research and experience local history through this robust collection.

On Thursday, August 11, from 5-7pm, the Montgomery Museum of Art and History will have an open house in conjunction with its summer Membership Mingle. At 6pm the MRF Branch will formally present its Black History Collection to the museum, including the newly created history booklets.  The event will take place at the museum’s new location, 4 East Main Street, Christiansburg, VA and all are welcome for this historic community event. “We are honored to partner with the Montgomery County-Radford City-Floyd County Branch of the NAACP to make African American history and culture more accessible to all within the New River Valley,” said Executive Director, Casey Jenkins of the Montgomery Museum. Deborah Travis, President of the NAACP Branch, stated “this project would not have been possible without the support of the community.  We are excited to make these materials available through the museum and embrace the value it will bring to our community.”

The collection was curated by the Education Committee in consultation with curators of local history museums, and with history and sociology professors from Virginia Tech and Radford University.  This collection has come to life through the generous contributions of community members who purchased and donated books from a designated book list. Generous support from these donors also allowed the Education Committee to purchase and acquire rare literature and cover the cost of printing and binding of certain booklets.

The collection has two parts: 25 books that tell the history of African Americans in the New River Valley and the greater region of Appalachia, and 8 booklets that focus more narrowly on the New River Valley and the lived experiences of African Americans in Montgomery, Floyd, and Pulaski counties and Radford City.  The subjects covered include coal mining, local education, slavery and segregation, massive resistance, and reconciliation within the region.  In addition to printed material there will be QR codes to access documented oral histories.

Two sets of the Book Collection have been donated to the Montgomery Museum of Art & History.  The following quotation is printed on the bookplate inside each book: “There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honoring our struggle and ancestors by remembering.” -Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the National Museum of African History and Culture