Tobacco Artifacts Exhibit Opens in Chatham

Chatham, VA - After a long wait, history buffs on the Southside will get to see the return of some well-known tobacco artifacts.

The National Tobacco-Textile Museum in Danville closed in 1990, but those relics are getting a new debut.

When the museum closed, the items went into storage.

Now, folks will get to relive their nostalgia for the golden leaf at the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex in Chatham.

After discussing the idea of an exhibit more than a year ago, organizers are finally preparing for the grand opening.

"We wanted to kind of illustrate the heritage of tobacco farming here within the county and its importance to the county, " said Agriculture Development Director Fred Wydner.

Finding a space to accommodate all the pieces in the "Growing Gold" tobacco exhibit was a task, but organizers say the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex is the perfect place for something so dear to Pittsylvania County's heritage.

"It's the focal point of agriculture in the county and to have the museum or the artifacts displayed here would be just another opportunity to welcome people into the agricultural world who might not be exposed to it, " Wydner said.

"Those who will come and see the exhibition are seeing only a small portion of the collection from the former tobacco textile museum, " said Collections Manager Gary Grant.

The Danville Tobacco Association amassed most of the collection.

It includes artwork, pipes and tobacco memorabilia from the 16th though 20th centuries.

"I think those who come to see it will be satisfied. The viewing experience and the story experience will be compelling one and a gratifying one, " said Grant.

The free exhibit will debut tonight when the Agricultural Complex hosts the Danville-Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce's "Business After Hours" event.

Organizers say the exhibit will remain in place for an undetermined amount of time.