It’s the home of West Virginia University. It’s the home of spectacular mountains. It’s the home of the Monongahela and Cheat rivers. And, Morgantown, W.Va., also is the home of arts.
With museums, galleries, theaters, art centers, music, and art festivals, this town showcases the extraordinary talent of a wide array of artisans and performers.
The Art Museum of West Virginia University boats a collection of more than 3,000 pieces, ranging from prints to ceramics to paintings. An Asian collection includes Korean pottery, painted Chinese scrolls, and unique pieces from Japan, India, and Thailand. An African exhibit is rich with ritualistic carvings and vibrant jewelry.
The museum also holds a stunning collection of contemporary ceramics, and a gallery devoted to the art of native West Virginia filmmaker and artist James Edward Davis. The main gallery houses pieces from artists such as Francisco Goya, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso.
New and exciting temporary exhibits regularly rotate through the bright, airy spaces. Shepard Fairey’s Work Against the Clampdown runs through Oct. 15. Fairey is the creator of the 2008 Obama Hope poster.
Closely associated with the museum, the WVU Creative Arts Center hosts concerts, symphonies, monthly art exhibitions, plays, and musicals in association with the West Virginia Public Theatre.
Visual and performing arts
The Monongalia Arts Center is an avant-garde cultural facility with two galleries highlighting the work of local artists; one gallery displays new exhibits every month. The MAC also offers classes in both the performing and visual arts. And, its Tanner Theatre runs community productions of plays, plus shows by comic acts, dancers, performance artists, chamber orchestras, and rock bands.
Great local art also can be found at the Mountaineer Mall, where the Morgantown Art Association Gallery sells and shows the best of West Virginia’s artists.
The Morgantown Theatre Company, based at the beautiful and historic Metropolitan Theatre, also known as the Met, runs a regular schedule of plays and shows — and works in collaboration with WVU’s College of Creative Arts.
Mainstage Morgantown and the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheatre provide venues for larger concerts and touring companies. And, downtown is always hopping with live music on weekends at nearly a dozen bars, including the Blue Moose Cafe and Rhythm and Brews.
Take the Arts Walk
Perhaps the best way to explore the arts and music of this vibrant small city is at the Arts Walk, scheduled this year for Sept. 22.
From 6:00–9:00pm, more than 40 shops, museums, and restaurants in the Main Street section of Morgantown will exhibit local artwork, showcase live music, and offer discounts on goods and services. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres, as well as international cuisine such as Caribbean delicacies, will be served. The assortment of arts and crafts is astounding and includes watercolors, stained glass, oil paintings, ceramics, landscapes, lithographs, textiles, wooden carvings, jewelry, and other media.
While in Morgantown, don’t miss the statue of legendary comic actor Don Knotts. Dedicated in 2016, it pays tribute to the actor best known for playing Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show.
Knotts was born in Morgantown in 1924 and was raised in a boarding house owned by his mother. After serving in World War II, Knotts returned to his hometown and earned a bachelor’s degree at West Virginia University. The statue of the five-time Emmy Award-winning actor is located in front of the Metropolitan Theatre and depicts Knotts sitting and smiling, holding Fife’s deputy’s hat in one hand and a script in the other.
Editor’s note: The Andy Griffith Show’s fictional Mayberry is based on Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, N.C. There, you’ll find numerous memories of the show and cast. See more about that area and the annual Mayberry Festival in the North Carolina section this month.
Morgantown Tourism: tourmorgantown.com