Brownsburg Museum

Mission and Vision

Numerous irreplaceable articles have been entrusted to the BCA with the expectation that the association will be able to preserve, catalog, and display them for the purpose of informing and educating future generations.

Brownsburg Village Sign

The mission of the Brownsburg Museum shall be to establish and maintain a museum to house and exhibit a permanent collection of 18th, 19th, and 20th century regional memorabilia, and to provide space for collections on loan, for the purpose of enjoyment and education of the general public and the rural communities of the Valley of Virginia. We strive to connect the public with the history, arts, and culture of Brownsburg and the surrounding area thereby promoting a sense of community spirit and civic pride.

Our vision is to be the best quality volunteer run community museum.

The Museum is now closed as we prepare for our 2024 exhibit. “Cradle to Coffin: Remembering the Country Store” was a popular exhibit, praised by all who visited. Thank you everyone who came out to see it.

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Big things come in small packages. We take that to heart at the Brownsburg Museum. So why not take a little side trip to visit this historic village and community-run museum the Lexington News-Gazette deemed, “first class.”

Exhibit 2020-2022

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Exhibit brings country store back to life

BROWNSBURG—Long before the internet, rural Americans had connections to the outside world. They called it the country store. Although local mercantile establishments have almost disappeared, at one time they symbolized the very heart of the community; places where folks of every age, race, and gender could purchase anything they needed, literally, from birth to death. 

Over the course of the last few years, the Brownsburg Museum, situated in the historic village of Brownsburg in northern Rockbridge County, has gained a reputation for hosting quality exhibits. “Cradle to Coffin: Remembering the Country Store” continues and even expands upon that tradition with a new exhibit that not only fills both rooms of the small museum, but spills out onto the front and back porches—just like the jammed-packed stores of the past. 

“Not only could Americans buy what they desired at the country store, but they could also sell products—such as eggs, butter, furs, and ginseng,” notes one of the interpretive panels of the exhibit.  But a visit to the store also meant picking up mail, hearing juicy gossip; playing checkers while discussing politics; carrying out some banking, and buying a pound of sugar, a schoolbook, a hat, a tobacco plug, or a packet of garden seeds.

Visitors to the “Cradle to Coffin” exhibit will find themselves immersed in the sensory experience of the store. The front room of the museum will have traditional museum interpretive panels explaining the rise and fall of the rural retail business, as well as displaying historic store artifacts, and photographs from area country stores. 

The country store evolved from traveling peddlers selling pins, combs, and other niceties on the frontier to settled shopkeepers. For a century and a half such stores prospered before turning into fading memories because of the automobile, the mail order catalog, and giant chain stores. A step through the door into the back room of the museum, however, will be like stepping back into time as the entire room will be a recreated store from the past. From ceiling to floor and wall to wall, visitors will observe shelves and counters jammed to overflowing; a kaleidoscope of colorful advertisements vying for attention; baskets and buckets dangling from the ceiling, and clothing fluttering from lines strung hither and yon.

By Nancy Sorrells

Slave Dwelling Documentary Completed

As part of their course on Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking, three W&L University students, Wyatt Hamilton, Teddy Jacobsen, and Jak Krouse visited five area slave swellings and interviewed two enslaved labor descendants (Dr. David Green and Maurice MIller) and two descendants of slave-holders and made a short documentary film.  Special thanks to Paul and Nancy Hahn, of the Museum Advisory Committee who answered the initial inquirty from Dr. Green and got the whole process started! The link is to all of the videos.  The second one is Brownsburg’s.  It is called, “Uncovering Connections” and is 10 minutes long.  The museum’s founder, Dick Barnes is interviewed and speaks eloquently about the importance of the Brownsburg Museum.  


Grain Into Gold Documentary Completed

Connor Chess, Witt Hawkins and Powell Robinson are W&L students who made an entertaining and informative short video on the milling and distilling history in and around Brownsburg. Their work completed in their Cross-Cultural Documentary Filmmaking class is shared in the YouTube video below.

Connor, Witt and Powell were very grateful for the community support they received, particularly from Paul and Nancy Hahn, Dick Barnes, and John Siegfried.  They wrote “Again, our sincerest thanks for your help, your support, and for the opportunity to focus our project on such a hidden gem only 20 minutes from W&L.  It was a pleasure working with you and learning about the history of Brownsburg.”