- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Museum of Natural History is looking into the creation of a Waynesboro branch to display the natural attractions of the region, including the Shenandoah Valley.

The Waynesboro branch would be the first since the museum shuttered branches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg about 10 years ago amid budget cuts.

The museum’s executive director, Joe Keiper, said he’ll seek $10 million from the state to help fund the satellite. The funding could also be part of a state bond referendum planned one year from now, he said.

Keiper said the state support would encourage local giving in the Waynesboro area, which he deemed necessary for the branch to become a reality.

The museum’s Board of Trustees met Saturday and voted to seek the state support, the Martinsville Bulletin (https://bit.ly/1N3MtfT) reported. The vote came after members toured two locations in Waynesboro that are under consideration.

Waynesboro is being looked as a branch because of its proximity to natural attractions, such as the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park, and the thousands of visitors they attract. It would also make the museum’s collection accessible to more people.

The Martinsville museum houses more than 22 million specimens of plants and animals.

Keiper said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward supports the idea of a branch museum. Lawmakers who’ve been asked also seem to support it, he said.

“I would not be putting the effort into it if I didn’t think there was a reasonable chance of success,” Keiper said. “Nobody has told me it’s a bad idea.”

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Information from: Martinsville Bulletin, https://www.martinsvillebulletin.com


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