Music & Miniatures of Note in the Valley

Free and Open to the public. Galleries open W-F 1-4, Sat 10-4 (masks required)

The COVID pandemic changed our daily lives in myriad ways. Gatherings were limited; travel was restricted. People coped and refocused, sometimes with exciting results. In some ways, this exhibit is a byproduct of the worst global pandemic in a century.

Don DePoy and Martha Hills, the husband and wife musical duo known as “Me & Martha”, found themselves at home away from the stage for the first time in years. While taking a break from touring, they began fine-tuning their idea of developing a trail celebrating the rich musical heritage of the Shenandoah Valley. In 2021, their Shenandoah Music Trail emerged fully mature and ready to bring the Valley’s Mountain Music to the world.

Retiree Gary Whistleman turned his time at home into bringing to life, through intricate miniature dioramas, the rich history that he discovered in history books about the Valley. His expertise in developing miniature historical scenes had already been honed through working with places such as the Museum of the American Revolution, but he was able to take to his workshop uninterrupted in 2020. As the pandemic moved through the calendar year, he worked his way through the centuries reading history books and telling the story of Augusta County in five miniature snapshots of time.

“Music & Miniatures of Note in the Valley,” is the whimsical pairing of Don and Martha’s efforts with those of Gary’s to create one of the more unique exhibits that the Augusta County Historical Society has presented in the History Gallery of the R.R. Smith Center for History and Art.

The Society has supplemented the instruments and music brought into the History Gallery by Don and Martha with items from its own collections, such as the Wine fiddle and the Grubert clarinet, as well as the many archival black and white photographs from the area’s musical past.

In addition, books from the Society’s library that inspired Gary are placed with each diorama. Perhaps they will provide ideas and opportunities for those who wish to fan the flames of our Augusta County heritage that have been sparked by Gary’s miniature dioramas.

We invite you to take the time to explore the rich stories that can be found in this unique exhibit. Use the magnifying glasses to examine the details of the dioramas and sit for a while and enjoy the musical video highlighting the many artists keeping the Valley’s Mountain Music alive.