Did you know that Downtown Roanoke is home to 9 different museums? With this many options, there are opportunities to play and learn in diverse and engaging settings around every corner. And the best part, there's something for everyone. Take a look below to learn more about each unique museum. Then make a plan to come downtown and enjoy!
The Don and Barbara Smith Children’s Museum aka Kids Square
Kids Square is a premier destination where families come together to EXPLORE, PLAY and LEARN in a hands-on learning environment. The museum exists to further Center in the Square’s mission to enhance education, economic development and quality of life.
The Harrison Museum of African American Cultures, Inc. (HMAAC) is a cultural and educational institution committed to advocating, showcasing, preserving and celebrating the art and history of African Americans for Roanoke Valley citizens and visitors. Their purpose is to cultivate awareness and appreciation of the significant contributions of people of African descent. Memorabilia, photographs, and objects relating to the African-American experience in the Roanoke Valley form an extensive portion of the Harrison Museum Permanent Collection. Oral stories and recollections as told by elders highlight the culture and significance of the valley’s black communities. These oral histories enhance the materials found in the museum’s archives. In addition, African and contemporary art are an integral part of the permanent collection.
Find The Harrison Museum inside Center in the Square
The Historical Society of Western Virginia preserves, collects, interprets, and exhibits the history of the region. Learn more about the Native Americans that lived in the area, the settlers that traveled to Big Lick, its early artisans, and the creation of Roanoke as a hub for the Norfolk & Western Railway. Temporary exhibits rotate frequently, so check the website to see what is currently on view.
Experience America's steam locomotive era through O. Winston Link's acclaimed photography of 1950's life along the Norfolk and Western Railway. Galleries are in the restored N&W Passenger Station, designed by Raymond Loewy. Featuring interactive exhibits and train viewing areas.
The Roanoke Pinball Museum is an interactive museum dedicated to the science, art, and history of pinball. Their games are fully playable and span a near-century of production from the 1930's through today.
Find the Pinball Museum inside Center in the Square
With a name honoring another iconic Roanoke structure, The Roanoke Starcade is a 3,000 square foot facility on the 2nd floor of Center in the Square featuring classic and new arcade systems and activities for gaming, competition, private engagements and of course, great fun.
Take learning into your own hands and explore the world of STEM throughout two floors of interactive activities and engaging exhibits. Spark curiosity, find your inspiration, and walk out a budding scientist. Be sure to experience their newest interactive exhibit, The Parakeet Garden! At this immersive parakeet exhibit you'll be able to feed and closely interact with over 250 parakeets! The Science Museum of Western Virginia is a must-experience attraction.
Find the Science Museum inside Center in the Square
As the largest art museum in southwestern Virginia, the Taubman Museum of Art serves as the region’s premier destination for world-class arts and culture. Founded in 1951 as the Roanoke Fine Arts Center, the Museum now resides in a landmark facility designed by renowned architect Randall Stout and named one of the nation’s best designed museums by Architectural Digest. The Museum’s collection focuses on American art and includes more than 2,200 works from artists such as Romare Bearden, Thomas Hart Benton, Thomas Eakins, Audrey Flack, Robert Henri, Judith Leiber, Sally Mann, Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, and Purvis Young; twelve galleries support twelve to fifteen exhibitions per year. With a mission of bringing people and art together for discovery, learning, and enjoyment, the Museum’s exhibitions as well as community engagement and education programs typically reach more than 80,000 guests per year, and were recognized recently by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as a National Medal Finalist. The Taubman Museum of Art is also among only one-third of museums in the nation to offer free general daily admission.
Climb aboard decades-old steam locomotives while watching modern trains zoom by on active mainline tracks. Located in Downtown Roanoke’s century-old freight station, the museum includes an extensive collection of steam, diesel, and electric locomotives and other types of rail cars. Other visitor favorites include model trains, automotive and aviation exhibits, buggies, a trolley bus, and a Jupiter Rocket.