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When the Weather Outside is Frightful

Though Virginia winters can be relatively mild, temperatures are usually too chilly to enjoy the kinds of activities we delight in during the warmer seasons, like sitting under umbrellas while people-watching on Charlottesville’s pedestrian mall. But the area still offers many engaging things to do indoors during the winter. Here is a sampling of ideas for things to do in February 2017.

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Did you know that the literary titan William Faulkner lived in Charlottesville for five years, and that the UVA Library is in possession of “the largest collection of Faulkner manuscripts in the world”? From 1956 to 1958, Faulkner held the University position of Balch Writer-in-Residence. On February 6, 2017 the Special Collections Library will unveil their latest exhibition, “Faulkner: Life and Works.” The exhibition will include not only samples from the manuscript collection, but also personal letters and audio recordings. Perhaps surprising to those who only know him through his contributions to literature, he also dabbled in painting and sketching. The exhibition will be open until July 2017.

The Paramount

Photo by Stevan Michaels.

Photo by Stevan Michaels.

A Charlottesville institution since 1931, The Paramount holds a prominent place on the downtown pedestrian mall. Learn more about the history of the theater by signing up for the backstage tour where you’ll see, among other things, autographs of visiting performers on the Wall of Fame. Tickets are free but the staff recommends that you reserve your spot in advance. Also of interest is the Piedmont Landscape Association Seminar on February 16, 2017 which “strives to bring gardening enthusiasts and landscape professionals together in an annual setting.” What better way to anticipate spring than to spend the day discussing horticulture?

Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA

The newly opened exhibition “Body Ornaments” by Janet Fieldhouse, an Indigenous Australian ceramic artist, is now on display at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection. Her work is a contemporary interpretation of the cultural traditions of her ancestors on the Torres Strait Islands, and includes porcelain arm bands and fine porcelain light boxes. The exhibition will be on display until May, and the artist will be in residence in Charlottesville from March 10 to April 9, 2017, during which time she will discuss her work with the public.

The Bridge PAI (Progressive Arts Initiative)

From February 3-24, The Bridge will be home to the installation “Empowering Women of Color.” It is a collaboration among artists based in Charlottesville who are also women of color. During the opening reception on February 3, 2017, spoken word artists will exhibit their work as well. And on February 16, the exhibition will host a fundraising event with musical artist Dhara to benefit SARA (the Sexual Assault Resource Agency). The suggested donation is $10.

Fralin Museum of Art

From now until April 2017, you can view a new documentary film by UVA Professor of Art Kevin Everson at the Fralin Museum of Art. The subject? The moon, and the cyclical nature of life. Everson shot the film, titled Rough and Unequal, from the McCormick Observatory of UVA. The next exhibition of visual art will open on March 3, 2017 and consists of artwork from the museum’s permanent collection.

McGuffey Art Center

The McGuffey Art Center has three exhibitions that will run simultaneously from January 31 to February 26, 2017. In partnership with McGuffey, the Alzheimer’s Association of Central and Western Virginia presents “Art 4 Alz,” which consists entirely of artwork made by “persons with memory impairment and their care partners.” Julia Merkel’s book arts and sculptural mixed-media explore grief in an exhibition titled “Absence/Presence.” And finally, “Flotsam” is a group show exhibiting the work of 11 different artists responding to concerns about ocean pollution.


On February 11, 2017, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is offering a workshop titled “Memories Matter: Saving Family Heirlooms.” It is co-sponsored by the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center and will take place there. The organizers instruct, “Bring your family heirlooms and learn how to properly store and care for them, including preserving family bibles, letters, quilts, trophies, diplomas, photographs, and more. Record your family history at the story booth in the Heritage Center.”

James Monroe’s Highland

Also on February 11, 2017, you can learn how to spin wool by hand at James Monroe’s Highland using a traditional drop spindle and wool sourced right from the Dorset sheep that live there. The class costs $10 per person.

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