You may hear the words “frontier,” “culture,” and “museum” used consecutively in a sentence and die of boredom. That would be a mistake. The Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia, is exceptionally well-done and interesting, even to history flunkies. Yes, there are interpreters in period costume. But they don’t fake ridiculous accents or try to win any drama club awards with goofy performances. They’re just there to answer questions and demo how life was lived back in the day. (It wasn’t easy.)
The 300-acre museum tells the story of early immigrants and their American descendants through recreations (and sometimes rebuilds) of rural homes: a 1600s English farm, a 1700s Irish forge, an 1850s American farm, etc. Of special note is the 1700s West African settlement (the kind that slave traders would have raided) and a 1700s Ganatastwi encampment (of the sort Native Americans might’ve occupied—until they were driven out by the European invaders). Pictured up top is a one-room American farm circa the 1740s. It wasn’t glamorous by any means: Few settlers at that time owned furniture; they slept on the floor or on a bedstead built into the wall. But hey, bonus points for doing that whole #PNWlife/Americana/Kinfolk look 300 years before it was cool.
There are a total of 11 exhibits at the FCM, including an early American schoolhouse and an old log church. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except in winter; from December 26 through March 12, it’s 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $12.
1290 Richmond Ave., Staunton, VA; 540-332-7850.