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Virginia Living Museum
Capital Projects

Surgical Suite

The Virginia Living Museum is committed to providing our animals with excellent medical and surgical care that meets the standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which is the accrediting body for facilities with live animals. In May 2012, the Museum opened the Dr. C. Louise Kirk Surgical Suite enabling surgeries to be performed in-house on the larger animals, such as Bobcat, Coyote and Red Wolves, which are part the Museum's animal collection. Area veterinarians and hospitals donated equipment for the $47,000 project.

While the suite is complete, the Museum has established an endowment to pay for new technology and the on-going need for medical supplies. Your gift will help extend the life of an animal. Please donate today!

 vet clinic  vet clinic vet clinic 

Donate Now

Donate via our online donation form.

Use our printable donation form.

For more information call Carol Polimenopulos 757-595-1900 ext. 286 or
email the Development Office.

Holt Native Plant Conservatory

The Holt Native Plant Conservatory, named for Museum founders Mary Sherwood Holt and her late husband Quincy, has enabled the Museum to expand its horticultural offerings including propagation of native plants and garden education programs.


Holt Native Plant ConservatorySince the Museum’s creation, Mary Sherwood Holt has been a staunch supporter of the institution and its mission. All the while, she has also been a passionate advocate for horticulture and its importance to the Museum’s success. On May 6, 2011, the dedication of the Holt Native Plant Conservatory marked the realization of her dream that has spanned decades. The conservatory gives the Museum a showcase greenhouse where children can learn the importance of plants in our ecosystem, the public can enjoy, and the Horticulture Department can expand its efforts to conserve and promote native plants.


The Holt Native Plant Conservatory has more than 830 square feet of plant propagation, greenhouse and horticulture storage space. The Museum will be growing and quarantining larger plant material for use in animal exhibits. Hard-to-find ornamental native trees and shrubs will be propagated here. And, most exciting of all, we will begin to experiment with, and perfect, propagation methods for rare and endangered native plant species. Students will be able to use the propagation areas as part of their Museum classes. They will be educated on the importance of plants in our ecosystems and experience the joy that comes from growing them. Visitors will also have access to the conservatory through horticulture tours and special events.


Garden Improvements

Native Plant Garden 
 Native Plant Garden
 Childrens Garden
 Hobbit House
The Virginia Living Museum opened its newest garden areas on April 6, 2013. The new Native Plant Teaching Garden is designed to represent all of the horticulturally significant plants in Virginia. Starting with 200 to 300 species, the garden will ultimately have about 750 species, along with growing and bloom information. “Unlike our other gardens that have creative designs, this garden is a place where visitors can identify plants and learn about their cultivation,” said Horticulture Curator Bruce Peachee. “The goal is to have a complete horticulture collection of Virginia’s plants from the mountains to the sea,” Peachee said. “It will grow as we locate and procure interesting plants.”


The Children’s Garden consists of the refurbished Children’s Learning Garden and Nature Playground where kids can get active on a climbing spider web, hop on mushroom shapes and talking tubes, and explore a play Hobbit House. The Learning Garden has plants that attract pollinators, birds and butterfly caterpillars; plants that appeal to the senses and vegetables to promote healthy food choices. “Instead of actively enjoying the outdoors as did previous generations, children today spend most of their free time indoors, engaged in sedentary activities like playing video games.  The incidence of childhood obesity and diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate,” said Education Director Chris Lewis. “The Children’s Garden with its Nature Playground, Hobbit House and Children’s Learning Garden encourages young children to engage in healthy physical activity through interactive play in the hope that children will develop a love for being active outdoors that will continue to be an important and enjoyable part of their lives as they grow.”  


The projects were funded by a grant from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation and donations by the Abbitt and Holt families, and Green Spring, Huntington and James River Garden Clubs.


Donate Now

Donate via our online donation form.

Use our printable donation form.

For more information call 757-595-1900 ext. 286 or
email the Development Office.