Science Museum of Virginia

The Science Museum of Virginia is a science museum located in Richmond, Virginia. Established in 1970, it is an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is housed in the former Broad Street Station, built in 1919.

Science Museum of Virginia
Richmond Science Museum
Location2500 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia
TypeScience museum

Coordinates: 37°33′40″N 77°28′00″W / 37.56110°N 77.46664°W


Early proposals

In 1906, the Virginia General Assembly approved funds for the construction of a simple "exhibits center" to display mineral and timber exhibits being assembled for the Jamestown Exposition of 1907. After the exposition ended, many of the items were moved to Richmond's Capitol Square. The "State Museum" as it came to be known opened in 1910, adding displays of natural historical specimens from a variety of state agencies to its collection over the years.

In 1942, the General Assembly created a study commission to consider establishing an official State science museum. That commission succeeded in endorsing the creation of a "Virginia Museum of Science" in 1943. The fiscal restraints and pressing concerns of World War II – and the recession which followed it – prevented the General Assembly from taking further action. In 1946, the General Assembly suspended work on a State science museum awaiting appropriate space and funds.

By 1964, the General Assembly resumed the project of a "State Museum". A new study was commissioned, and once again, the establishment of a "museum of science, archaeology, and natural history" was proposed, but this measure died in the committee. Shortly thereafter, the museum's displays and collections in the basement of the state's Financial Building were gradually disassembled and their collections were dispersed to various State universities.

However, the closing of the "State Museum" galvanized the state's scientific community, and between 1965 and 1967, the Virginia Academy of Sciences, led by Dr. Roscoe D. Hughes, vigorously lobbied Virginia's Governor Mills E. Godwin, to sponsor legislation in the General Assembly to finally establish the State Science Museum.


Enabling legislation was drafted and approved by the General Assembly, and on July 1, 1970,[1] the Science Museum of Virginia was established.

Over the next several years, the Museum attempted to find an empty storefront, warehouse, or other space which could be used as a temporary home. Friends of the Museum pressed the State to allow it to move into part of the old Broad Street Station, which had recently been purchased from the railroad company by the State and was destined for the wrecking ball. Broad Street Station was built by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (RF&P) in 1917 in the neoclassical style by the architect John Russell Pope. Although the station also served the trains of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL), the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W), and eventually the Seaboard Air Line Railway (SAL), much of the stock of the RF&P was owned by the State of Virginia's Retirement System, dating to a period before the American Civil War when it was a major investment in Virginia's future. The Museum staff occupied Broad Street Station on January 22, 1976.

On January 6, 1977, Governor Godwin, in his second term, presided over the dedication of the Science Museum's first exhibit gallery, The Discovery Room. The event celebrated the fifty-eighth anniversary and rebirth of Broad Street Station and the culmination of over seventy years of effort to establish the Science Museum of Virginia.

Science Museum of Virginia
View of the Science Museum of Virginia facade and kugel ball.

Exhibit history

A remodeled and greatly expanded Aquarium opened in 1981. That same year, the world's largest analemmic sundial, located in the Museum's parking lot, was dedicated. It would later be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

In 1982 the Museum introduced Crystal World, the largest and most comprehensive exhibit in the world on the subject of crystallography. Also introduced was the Solar Challenger, the world's first successful solar airplane, which had just completed a world tour to celebrate its first solar-powered flight from Paris to London.

In 1983 the Museum dedicated its new Universe Planetarium & Space Theater, now called The Dome. The Theater's Digistar planetarium projector was the world's first computer/video planetarium projection system and the first that could take visitors on simulated trips through both time and space. Its film projection system was only one of a handful around the world capable of showing 70 mm OMNIMAX films.[2] The theaters' sound system featured over one hundred individual speakers and generated enough power to simulate earthquakes and rocket lift-offs. The seventy-six-foot domed screen of the theater itself was then the world's largest.

In 2003 the Museum unveiled the Grand Kugel, the world's largest kugel ball at a cost of $1.5 million. The Grand Kugel was originally carved from an 86-ton block of South African black granite. It was 8 feet, 8.7 inches in diameter, and it floated on a base of granite. Shortly after installation, the Grand Kugel began to crack. The crack eventually spread through the sphere, rendering it unfloatable. A replacement kugel ball was installed in October 2005. The original kugel is still on display behind the museum.[3]

In the former train loading area which has been redeveloped, large static displays now include:

In 2014 the Museum upgraded its five-story theater, The Dome, with a new digital projection system.

In 2016 the Museum opened a new permanent exhibition, Speed, with an SR-71 Blackbird suspended from the ceiling. The Blackbird was relocated from the Virginia Aviation Museum near the Richmond International Airport.[4]

In 2017 the ambitious exhibition Da Vinci—Alive the Experience opened to the public. This travelling exhibition of the art and science of Leonardo da Vinci was developed by Grande Exhibitions in Australia, under the auspices of the Commune di Roma, Commune di Firenze and Citta di Venezia, with the assistance of Pascal Cotte of Lumiere Technology, France.[5]

Affiliated museums

In addition to the Broad Street location, the Danville Science Center in Danville, Virginia is affiliated with the Science Museum of Virginia.[6]


  1. ^ " – Science Museum of Virginia page".
  2. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2013-03-11.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ramsey, John (January 26, 2016). "SR-71 pilot to speak at Science Museum". Richmond Times-Dispatch. BH Media Group, Inc. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Da-vinci-alive-the-experience | SMV". Archived from the original on 5 May 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  6. ^ Bridal, Tessa (2013). Effective Exhibit Interpretation and Design. Lanham: AltaMira Press. p. xix. ISBN 9780759121126.

External links


Aluminaut (built in 1964) was the world's first aluminium submarine. An experimental vessel, the 80-ton, 15.5-metre (51 ft) manned deep-ocean research submersible was built by Reynolds Metals Company, which was seeking to promote the utility of aluminium. Aluminaut was based in Miami, Florida, and was operated from 1964 to 1970 by Reynolds Submarine Services, doing contract work for the U.S. Navy and other organizations, including marine biologist Jacques Cousteau.

Aluminaut is best known for helping recover a lost unarmed U.S. atomic bomb in 1966 and recovering its smaller fellow deep-submergence vehicle, DSV Alvin in 1969, after Alvin had been lost and sank in the Atlantic Ocean the previous year. After retirement, Aluminaut was donated to the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, where it is on permanent display.

Broad Street Station (Richmond)

Broad Street Station (also known as Union Station) was a union railroad station in Richmond, Virginia, United States, across Broad Street from the Fan district.

Chesapeake and Ohio class K-4

The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway's K-4 class were a group of ninety 2-8-4 steam locomotives purchased during and shortly after World War II. Unlike many other railroads in the United States, the Chesapeake and Ohio chose to nickname this class "Kanawha," after the river in West Virginia, rather than "Berkshire," after the region in New England.

Several survive today, including at the National Railroad Museum, Science Museum of Virginia, Chief Logan State Park, and B&O Railroad Museum.

During the years in the 1940s, just as the C&O K-4's were being built to haul heavy freight services, C&O Class K-4s were one of the few recognizable 2-8-4 (Berkshires) classes in North America. Along with Pere Marquette Class N, like Pere Marquette 1223, and Pere Marquette 1225, and Nickel Plate Road Class S, like NKP 755, NKP 757, NKP 759, NKP 763, NKP 765, and NKP 779 (The last steam locomotive built by Lima Locomotive Works).


Chronobiology is a field of biology that examines periodic (cyclic) phenomena in living organisms and their adaptation to solar- and lunar-related rhythms. These cycles are known as biological rhythms. Chronobiology comes from the ancient Greek χρόνος (chrónos, meaning "time"), and biology, which pertains to the study, or science, of life. The related terms chronomics and chronome have been used in some cases to describe either the molecular mechanisms involved in chronobiological phenomena or the more quantitative aspects of chronobiology, particularly where comparison of cycles between organisms is required.

Chronobiological studies include but are not limited to comparative anatomy, physiology, genetics, molecular biology and behavior of organisms within biological rhythms mechanics. Other aspects include epigenetics, development, reproduction, ecology and evolution.

Culture of Virginia

The Culture of Virginia refers to the distinct human activities and values that take place in, or originate from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia's historic culture was popularized and spread across America by Washington, Jefferson, and Lee, and their homes represent Virginia as the birthplace of America. Modern Virginia culture has many heritages, and is largely part of the culture of the Southern United States.

Danville, Virginia

Danville is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States, located on the fall line of the Dan River. It was a major center of Confederate activity during the Civil War, due to its strategic location on the Richmond and Danville Railroad, and today is principal city of the Danville, Virginia Micropolitan Statistical Area.

As of the 2010 census, the population was 43,055. It is bounded by Pittsylvania County, Virginia and Caswell County, North Carolina. It hosts the Danville Braves baseball club of the Appalachian League.

Danville Science Center

Danville Science Center is a science museum affiliated with the Science Museum of Virginia located in the tobacco warehouse district of Danville, Virginia.The museum features rotating exhibits on the lower level and permanent exhibits on the upper level including a Science On a Sphere installation. Other science themes include biology, gravity, friction, force, light and magnetism. The Estelle H. Womack Natural History Collection of taxidermied animal mounts and exhibits on the area's rail history, including the Wreck of the Old 97, are also housed in the adjacent Danville station. There is a seasonal butterfly station.


Futuropolis is a 1984 American short animated/stop motion science fiction film written and directed by Steve Segal and Phil Trumbo. The film introduces Tom Campagnoli, Mike Cody, Stan Garth, Catherine Schultz and Cassandra Cossitt in lead roles.

Mitchell Merling

Mitchell Merling is the Paul Mellon Curator of European Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, succeeding Pinkney L. Near in that position in 2005. In the Mellon Collection he oversees European art from the Middle Ages to the late 19th century, along with French, British sporting art, and American art. In addition, he is the curator of the Gans collection of English silver and oversees the acquisition of the Frank Raysor collection of around 10,000 European and American prints. He previously served as Curator of European Art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Peninsula Extension

The Peninsula Extension which created the Peninsula Subdivision of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) was the new railroad line on the Virginia Peninsula from Richmond to southeastern Warwick County. Its principal purpose was to provide an important new pathway for coal mined in West Virginia to reach the harbor of Hampton Roads for coastal and export shipping on collier ships.

Completed on October 16, 1881, the new double-tracked railroad and the other development visions of industrialist Collis P. Huntington resulted in a 15-year transition of the rural farm village of Newport News into a new independent city which also became home to the world's largest shipyard. The railroad, one of the later developed in Virginia, became important to many communities, opening transportation option and stimulating commerce and military operations on the Peninsula throughout the 20th century.

Over 125 years after it opened, many of the stations are gone. Spur lines have both come and gone. Also gone are the steam locomotives, save one on display at Huntington Park in Newport News, another at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, and a third which was left buried in Richmond's Church Hill Tunnel.

Despite the changes, in the early 21st century, the rails of the Peninsula Subdivision continue to form an important link for Amtrak service from Williamsburg and Newport News, and bring the circus to town each year. High quality bituminous coal was the motivation for originally building the line, and current owner CSX Transportation continues day and night to deliver massive amounts of it to be loaded onto ships destined for points worldwide.

Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad

The Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad (reporting mark RFP) was a railroad connecting Richmond, Virginia, to Washington, D.C. The track is now the RF&P Subdivision of the CSX Transportation system; the original corporation is no longer a railroad company.

The RF&P was a bridge line, with a slogan of "Linking North & South," on a system that stretched about 113 miles. Until around 1965 RF&P originated less than 5% of its freight tonnage, probably less than any other Class I railroad. For much of its existence the RF&P connected with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Seaboard Air Line Railroad at Richmond. At Alexandria and through trackage rights to Union Station in Washington, D.C., connections were made with the Pennsylvania Railroad, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Southern Railway. It connected to the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad at Potomac Yard and interchanged with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway at Doswell. It and the former Conrail properties are the only CSX lines to have cab signal requirements on their entire system.

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond () is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. It is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the Greater Richmond Region. Richmond was incorporated in 1742 and has been an independent city since 1871.

As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 204,214; in 2016, the population was estimated to be 223,170, making Richmond the fourth-most populous city in Virginia. The Richmond Metropolitan Area has a population of 1,260,029, the third-most populous metro in the state.

Richmond is located at the fall line of the James River, 44 miles (71 km) west of Williamsburg, 66 miles (106 km) east of Charlottesville, 100 miles (160 km) east of Lynchburg and 90 miles (140 km) south of Washington, D.C. Surrounded by Henrico and Chesterfield counties, the city is located at the intersections of Interstate 95 and Interstate 64, and encircled by Interstate 295 and Virginia State Route 288. Major suburbs include Midlothian to the southwest, Chesterfield to the south, Varina to the southeast, Sandston to the east, Glen Allen to the north and west, Short Pump to the west and Mechanicsville to the northeast.

The site of Richmond had been an important village of the Powhatan Confederacy, and was briefly settled by English colonists from Jamestown in 1609, and in 1610–1611. The present city of Richmond was founded in 1737. It became the capital of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia in 1780, replacing Williamsburg. During the Revolutionary War period, several notable events occurred in the city, including Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech in 1775 at St. John's Church, and the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom written by Thomas Jefferson. During the American Civil War, Richmond served as the second and permanent capital of the Confederate States of America. The city entered the 20th century with one of the world's first successful electric streetcar systems. The Jackson Ward neighborhood is a national hub of African-American commerce and culture.

Richmond's economy is primarily driven by law, finance, and government, with federal, state, and local governmental agencies, as well as notable legal and banking firms, located in the downtown area. The city is home to both the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, one of 13 United States courts of appeals, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, one of 12 Federal Reserve Banks. Dominion Energy and WestRock, Fortune 500 companies, are headquartered in the city, with others in the metropolitan area.

Rotunda (architecture)

A rotunda (from Latin rotundus) is any building with a circular ground plan, and sometimes covered by a dome. It can also refer to a round room within a building (a famous example being within the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.). The Pantheon in Rome is a famous rotunda. A Band Rotunda is a circular bandstand, usually with a dome.

Science Museum

Science Museum may refer to:

Science museum, a type of museum

Science Museum, London, a museum in London, UK

Hong Kong Science Museum, a museum in Kowloon, Hong Kong

Science Museum of the University of Coimbra, a museum in Coimbra, Portugal

Science Museum, Birmingham, a former name of the Museum of Science and Industry, Birmingham, UK

Science Museum at Wroughton, the object store near Swindon for the London Science Museum, UK

Museum of Science (Boston), US

Science Museum Oklahoma, a museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, US

Science Museum of Virginia, a museum in Richmond, Virginia, US

Science Museum of Minnesota, a museum in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US

Science museum

A science museum is a museum devoted primarily to science. Older science museums tended to concentrate on static displays of objects related to natural history, paleontology, geology, industry and industrial machinery, etc. Modern trends in museology have broadened the range of subject matter and introduced many interactive exhibits. Many if not most modern science museums – which increasingly refer to themselves as science centers or "discovery centers" – also emphasize technology, and are therefore also technology museums.

The mission statements of science centers and modern museums vary, but they are united in being places that make science accessible and encourage the excitement of discovery. They are an integral and dynamic part of the learning environment, promoting exploration from the first "Eureka!" moment to today's cutting-edge research.

Three Corners District

Three Corners is a district of Richmond's Northside, defined as the area bound by Broad Street to the south, The Boulevard to the west, and Hermitage Road to the east. It receives its name from the triangular shape of the area, with notable landmarks situated near each of the three intersections.

To the north lies The Diamond, home of the VCU Rams and the Richmond Flying Squirrels AA baseball team; to the west is the Science Museum of Virginia, formerly the Broad Street Train Station; and, to the east is the historic Sauers Vanilla Factory, which features one of the oldest moving lightbulb billboards in the nation.

Three Corners is a low population density area consisting mostly of light industrial development; however, there are some other notable features, including the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' downtown office, Sportsbackers Stadium, and The Arthur Ashe Center.

Additionally, 2 residential projects have been completed, the Todd Lofts @ Hermitage Apartment Homes and the Southern Stove Lofts.

The Todd Lofts building, once the home of the Richmond Brewery and Hygeia Ice Factory, was eventually taken over by E.M. Todd Hams once prohibition outlawed alcohol. The company vacated the building in 1998 and construction of the new apartments began in late 2002.

Southern Stove's cavernous main stove works building is a single story with a 60-foot-tall ceiling and steel trusses. The foundry was built in 1902. Its roof system was made with 8-inch poured concrete as a fire barrier for sparks and soot from the stoves. The premises were purchased by J.P. Taylor Leaf Tobacco Co. in 1921. A three-story middle building is reinforced with heavy timbers. Bricks on the south side of the middle building are pitted from battering by barrels, or hogsheads, loaded with tobacco. It last housed beers from Austria, Germany and Eastern Europe.

Tiffany Jana

Tiffany Jana (born June 13, 1977) is the co-founder of TMI Consulting Incorporated, a diversity and inclusion management consulting firm founded in 2003 and headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. TMI Consulting is a benefit corporation as well as a certified B Corporation and earned the 2016 Best for the World honor from the nonprofit B Lab that certifies B Corps worldwide.

Jana is the co-author, with Matthew Freeman, of Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships across Differences (2016, Berrett-Koehler), as well as co-author, with Ashley Diaz Mejias, of Erasing Institutional Bias: How to Create Systemic Change for Organizational Inclusion (2018, Berrett-Koehler). The former received an endorsement from 2016 Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine. TMI consulting is featured in The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good by Ryan Honeyman, and Jana gave a talk in December 2012 as part of TEDxRVAWomen. In 2013, Jana was a winner of both the Style Weekly Top 40 Under 40 award and the Women Worth Watching award from Diversity Journal. In 2017, Jana was one of the winners of the 2017 Enterprising Women of the Year Award from Enterprising Women magazine.Jana is an international public speaker, having provided the keynote address for the 2015 Hong Kong Social Enterprise Summit, and the Dialogues for Change in several German cities including Berlin, Leipzig, Ludwigsburg, and Bottrop. She participated on a panel as part of Adweek's 2016 Adweek New York conference at Thomson Reuters featuring her book. In August, 2015, Jana was appointed for a 5-year term by the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe to the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum of Virginia. On November 11, 2016, Mayor-elect of Richmond, VA, Levar Stoney named Jana as co-chair (with lobbyist and former gubernatorial aide Bill Leighty) of his transition team. Jana was appointed to a four-year term on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Economic Development Authority on January 9, 2017.She was subsequently named one of Inc. magazine's Top 100 Leadership Speakers for 2018.

Virginia Academy of Science

The Virginia Academy of Science is a non-profit organization established to promote science and scientific research in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Academy was first established in 1920 in Richmond, Virginia by a group of nine biologists.

Virginia Aviation Museum

The Virginia Aviation Museum was an aviation museum in Richmond, Virginia, adjacent to Richmond International Airport (formerly "Richard Evelyn Byrd Flying Field"). Erected in 1986, the museum housed a collection of some thirty-four airframes, both owned and on-loan, ranging from reproductions of Wright Brothers kite gliders to the still state-of-the-art SR-71 Blackbird. It is a subsidiary of the Science Museum of Virginia. The current building, known as the Martha C. West Building, was originally planned to be a temporary storage facility until the actual museum building finished construction.

The museum closed June 30, 2016. The SR-71 was moved to the Science Museum of Virginia where it is on display. The remainder of the collection will be relocated and preserved, though a new location has yet be determined.

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