This week, we began a process to revamp and reconfigure the downstairs storefront museum to make room for a new exhibition. Opening as a part of First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson’s 145th Birthday celebrations, “World War I: From the White House…and Abroad” is the first comprehensive exhibition presented by the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Foundation.
The exhibition focuses on the leadership and contributions of Wytheville-native First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson during World War I and how her involvement in international and domestic affairs affected the home front. On view from October 14, 2017 - February 28, 2019, the exhibition corresponds to centennial of World War I.
Frequently cited as one of the most controversial women of the twentieth century, Edith Bolling Wilson’s role as First Lady has been heavily scrutinized, particularly in the aftermath of President Wilson’s debilitating stroke in 1919. During the last seventeen months of Wilson’s presidency, Edith assumed the “stewardship” of the executive office, acting as the gatekeeper of the west wing and protector of her husband’s health and political legacy.
Edith Bolling Wilson’s role as “presidentress” frequently overshadows her work as First Lady during the Great War. During this time, she functioned as President Wilson’s personal assistant, advisor, and confidante. Like few First Ladies before her, she became active in political causes to support and advance her husband’s policies. Heavily involved in domestic conservation efforts, Edith Bolling Wilson served as a model of wartime sacrifice at an important time in American history.
President and Mrs. Wilson with wounded soldiers on board the U.S.S. George Washington, July 7, 1919. Courtesy of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton, Virginia.
Along with narrative text panels, the exhibition will feature a selection of photographs and artifacts on view from various private and public collections, including the President Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C.
The exhibition will be on view to the public during museum open hours, Tuesday - Friday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and Saturday 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. A special opening reception will be held on Saturday, October 14th starting at 9:00 am. The event will include a tour of the exhibition by Executive Director, Shiloh Holley, and complimentary donuts and coffee (an homage to the Salvation Army’s "doughnut girls," who in 1917 distributed fresh doughnuts to homesick soldiers in France).
“World War I: From the White House…and Abroad” is funded in part by a grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Additional promotional support is provided by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia World War I Centennial Commemoration Commission, Bolling Wilson Hotel, the Wytheville Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Virginia Region of the American Red Cross.
Temporarily closed due to COVID -19
In-season Hours (May-December)
Tuesday - Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Off-season Hours (January - April)
To schedule a pre-arranged individual or group tour, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
145 E. Main St., Wytheville, VA 24382
The museum is located downtown across from the Bolling Wilson Hotel.
Entry to the museum is by donation. Guided tours of the Birthplace and Bolling Family Home are $5 for adults and $3 for children.