National Sporting Library and Museum: it’s much more than The Hunt
The first time I visited the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, I had planned on a short stay. I was working on a travel book for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a national historic area following the route of the Old Carolina Road from Gettysburg to Charlottesville. I read about the library in a tourism brochure, and decided to stop in the next morning, take a few pictures, and add a one-paragraph entry into the book. It didn’t turn out that way.I arrived at 10am, just as the doors were opening to the public, and emerged about four o’clock. During the intervening hours, I combed through one of the most surprising collection of books on the outdoors. I spent the better part of an hour looking at two illustrated books on fly tying, got lost in books of paintings on hunting and fishing, and marveled at some of the best compilations of wildlife drawings I’ve ever seen.How did I not know about this place? Founded as the National Sporting Library in 1954, by George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. and Alexander Mackay-Smith, the institution has expanded to become a library, research facility and art museum with over 26,000 books and works of art in the collections. The library is open free to the public — note, it’s a non-circulating library. There is an admission charge to the museum, but you can visit free of charge on Wednesdays and the last Sunday of the month.My hunch is that a lot of people either don’t know about the NSLM or don’t know the breadth of its offerings. Whether or not you’re into the sporting life, the museum’s collections and programs have something for people of any age or interest. Take, for example, the exhibit “NSLMology: The Science of Sporting Art,” which runs April 12 through September 15. It blends art with science to create The Science of Sporting Art, an exhibition exploring scientific principles through three centuries of paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and hands-on activities. Learn how the human eye processes the speed of a galloping horse; the chemistry of bronze in sculpture; and the workings of wind and clouds and weather. You can experience The Science of Sporting Art free of charge April 27, including hands-on activities and kid-friendly snacks in the Library’s Founders’ Room from 11am till 1pm.NSLM offers a calendar of free programs open to the public. May through August is the Open Late Summer Concert Series. Concerts are free and open to the public, and the museum stays open late — free of charge. Food and drinks are available for purchase at the events. See the website for more details and information. Sunday Sketch is the first Sunday of the month, from 2–4pm. Each month a local art teacher or artist leads a sketching session in the art galleries, guiding participants on style, composition, or another aspect of drawing. Supplies are provided for attendees of all ages.Gallery Talks take place every Wednesday at 2pm. NSLM staff give personalized views of traveling exhibitions, new acquisitions, or permanent collections pieces. Reservations are not required and admission is free.The National Sporting Library and Museum is member-supported. Once you attend a free program or two, you might consider supporting the mission and programs by joining.
National Sporting Library and Museum
102 The Plains Road, Middleburg VA 20117
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am–5pm.Museum admission: Adults, $10; seniors and youth (13–18), $8; children, free