Virginia Living Museum
Gateway to Nature Capital Campaign
The Virginia Living Museum launched a $5 million Gateway to Nature Capital Campaign in 2007. The campaign was designed to unify the campus, add attractions to increase visitation, grow education programming, update technology and create interactions with nature and the environment that inspire conservation and learning.
Phase I of the campaign was completed in 2009. It included $2.2 million in improvements:
- The Virginia Garden, highlighting 400 years of Virginia's botanical history with plants used by native Americans and colonists.
- Wild Side Cafe and Terrace
- Wason Amphitheater
- Abbitt Planetarium
- Upgraded planetarium lobby with a Magic Planet interactive exhibit
- Goodson Living Green House and Conservation Garden
Phase I also included retiring the $9 million construction loan from the 2004 capital campaign that built the current Museum building. A very generous anonymous donor pledged $6 million if the Museum could raise $3 million by Dec. 31, 2009. More than 639 families, business and foundations responded to the challenge, enabling the Museum to meet its goal and retire the debt.
More than 639 donors contributed to the success of the Gateway to Nature Capital Campaign and Opportunity Fund.
Projects planned for Phase II of the campaign include:
- Water Worlds For children of all ages to play and learn about water – harness its power, be “immersed” in the water cycle and understand its importance to life on the planet.
- Conservation Station Interactive indoor/outdoor exhibits that provide opportunities for visitors to participate in wildlife research and conservation activities and learn about careers in science.
- Increasing the Endowment To ensure sustainability and a rainy day fund.
The goals are a result of the Museum’s strategic plan adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2006.
On Sept. 9, 2008, the Museum dedicated the Harry and Judy Wason Amphitheater, the first project in the capital campaign. The 100-seat amphitheater overlooking Deer Park Lake is used for live animal programs, student programs, events and rentals. It was named in honor of Museum founder and long-time supporter Harry Wason and his wife, Judy. The amphitheater was partially funded by a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
On Nov. 20, 2008, the Museum dedicated the Abbitt Planetarium. The planetarium was completely modernized with a new, state-of-the-art digital computer-based Spitz sciDome projection system and Starry Night Dome software by Imaginova. The planetarium has been named to honor the Abbitt family of Newport News, long-time Museum supporters.
On June 20, 2009, the Museum dedicated the Goodson House, a “Living Green House”
environmental education center. In its exhibit house and yard,
homeowners, architects and contractors can see all the latest techniques
and products they can use to build and maintain an earth-friendly home,
presented in a way that makes them visible and understandable to the
general public. The house honors the contributions made to the Museum by
long-time supporter George Goodson, his family and their company,
Warwick Plumbing and Heating Corp.
The Virginia Living Museum is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) Internal Revenue Service designation. All donations to the capital campaign and capital projects are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Pavers & Pilings
You can help support the Museum through the purchase of a commemorative plaque (PDF) on a piling along the 3/4 mile boardwalk ($1,000), or a personalized paver (PDF) along the Museum's entrance walkway ($100 for a limited time).