Visit 4 great Ligonier Valley museums for free
Visitors to this year's Ligonier Valley Free Museum Day will not only be able to immerse themselves in the area's rich history, they'll also have the opportunity to view art from the other side of the globe.
The annual event is set for 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 6.
Visitors also have the chance to win a $250 gift certificate good for participating Ligonier area businesses. Visitors can pick up a “passport” at any stop; it must be verified at all four participating locations to qualify for the prize.
The featured facilities are:
The results of a multiyear expansion and enhancement project will be on display at the French and Indian War-era stronghold.
“We're very excited that this will be the first Free Museum Day that all the new exhibits and galleries will be open,” says Julie Donovan, director of marketing and public relations. “Visitors will get to see everything we've been working on.”
This includes the George Washington collection and the French and Indian War art gallery.
The smell of fresh baked goods also will waft over the fort. Ed Tutino, a baker from Shaler who is a regular at fort events, will fire up the reproduction field ovens for baking demonstrations.
As usual, visitors can explore the grounds, and there will be an 18th-century military encampment, other special guests and Colonial-era games to play.
200 S. Market St., Ligonier; 724-238-7901 or fortligonier.org
Compass Inn Museum
Did you know that Italian physicist Alessandro Volta invented the first battery in 1800? Or that Benjamin Franklin actually coined the term about 50 years earlier during his experiments with electricity?
“People actually don't know there were batteries back then,” says Theresa Gay Rohall, executive director of the Ligonier Valley Historical Society, which operates the restored stagecoach stop. “The kids will have a chance to make one — our program coordinator Malori Stevenson has figured out how to do that.”
Visitors strolling the grounds will hear traditional music by the Riverside Players of Latrobe. Demonstrations are planned in the cookhouse and the blacksmith shop. Volunteers will be stationed in the barn to discuss the restored stagecoach and Conestoga wagon, including what it would have been like to travel rugged frontier roads in them.
1386 Route 30, Laughlintown, 724-238-4983 or compassinn.com
Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley
It's a long way from Ligonier to Australia, which makes SAMA's featured exhibition that much more special.
Visitors can view “Ritual Abstractions: Australian Aboriginal Paintings From the Collection of Anne M. MacDougall,” with contemporary paintings derived from rock engravings dating back at least 40,000 years.
Information will be available on Aboriginal culture, art and the concept of “dreaming.” Children can create their own animal paintings and iconography inspired by the exhibit.
The museum's lush flower gardens and new sculpture park will entice visitors to linger on the grounds, weather permitting.
1 Boucher Lane, Ligonier Township; 724-238-6015 or sama-art.org
Ligonier Valley Rail Road Museum
“It's not new, but it is special — we will once again have the trackless train, very popular with our younger visitors,” says Ligonier Valley Rail Road Association board member and secretary Doug Kurtz.
The 1905 Bobber Caboose on the grounds of the restored Darlington Station is always a big draw and, Kurtz says, this year it will be easier to tour, with the addition of an exit deck and rear stairs: “Now there won't be crowded, two-way travel at the front of the caboose.”
The museum's collection includes more than 3,000 mostly railroad-related items including lanterns, locks and keys, dinnerware, videos and a wall map of the LVRR right-of-way. There's also a gift shop with books, toys, clothing and model railroad equipment.
3032 Idlewild Hill Lane, Ligonier Township; 724-238-7819 or lvrra.org
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, email@example.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.