“History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.”– Cicero
The Museums of Oglebay Institute serve as a celebration of culture and history and a place to explore the past through artifacts, photos and heritage programs.
The 1846 Mansion Museum is the former home of Cleveland industrialist Earl W. Oglebay. With its impressive collection, permanent and changing exhibits, interactive educational programs and special events, the Mansion Museum enhances the appreciation and understanding of American decorative arts, fosters knowledge of Wheeling history and celebrates the legacy of the Oglebay family. It was the first accredited Museum in West Virginia and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
By the early 1900s, nearly half of America’s pressed-glass tableware was manufactured in the Wheeling-Pittsburgh corridor, and one out of every 10 Wheeling workers was employed in the glass industry. Oglebay Institute’s Glass Museum honors this legacy through a world-class collection of more than 3,500 examples of Wheeling-made glass and china. The famous Sweeney Punch Bowl, the largest piece of cut glass in the world, is a highlight of the museum. Visitors can also experience the art of glassmaking through live demonstrations and workshops in OI’s glass studio.
Classes, Workshops and Camps
The Museums’ collections, historic buildings and picturesque landscapes provide a beautiful setting to learn and experience Wheeling’s history. Our students get rare opportunities to get up close to artifacts and learn from history and heritage experts.
Adult history programs include lectures, tours and classes on topics ranging from American Decorative Arts to Wheeling Glass. Our popular Glassmaking Classes allow visitors to work one-on-one with skilled artisans to learn the art of glassmaking and create beautiful glass keepsakes to take home.
Each summer kids can experience hands-on history at the Museums’ Time Traveler Adventure Camp, where they learn about life on the frontier, industrial life in Wheeling and what it was like to live in the Oglebay Mansion in the early 20th Century. Each April during Oglebay Institute’s Annual Antiques Show and Sale kids can learn about antiques and collecting from experts through a guided Antiques Show Children’s Tour.
History, Arts and Cultural Programs
The Museums of Oglebay Institute host a variety of contemporary programs each year, attracting a wide audience that includes local and regional residents, heritage travelers, guests at Oglebay Resort and scholars from many states.
The Committee of the Museums of Oglebay Institute, a working advisory and fundraising group, plans and assists with many of the public programs and supports the Museums year-round in a variety of volunteer roles.
- Changing Exhibits are featured in the Mansion Museum’s Sauder Gallery each year, from nationally touring exhibits to other fascinating displays ranging from antique toys to steamboats to Victorian fashion. In spring 2016 the Mansion hosts First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare as part of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s national tour.
- Oglebay Institute’s Antiques Show and Sale is held each spring at Oglebay’s Wilson Lodge and features more than 50 dealers from ten states. It is the largest and longest running antiques show in West Virginia and among the oldest shows in the nation.
- Spring Spirits is an annual cocktail party to celebrate the arrival of spring. Held each May on the picturesque patio and lawn of the Mansion, the popular event features craftily prepared hors d’ oeuvres and a variety of martinis as well as non-alcoholic beverages.
- Holidays at the Mansion invites guests to visit the Mansion lavishly decked for the holidays by talented decorators. It is one of the area’s most beloved traditions, attracting more than 16,000 visitors annually.
- The Nutcracker at the Mansion takes place each December. Guests enjoy an afternoon tea and a performance of the fairy-tale ballet by Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance.
- Children’s Day at the Mansion is a special Members Only event, featuring plenty of child-oriented, holiday fun. Activities include arts and crafts, a holiday play, gingerbread cookies, a magic show, children’s gift shop and a personal visit with Santa.
- Kitchen and Garden Tours are held biennially and feature self-guided tours of some of Wheeling’s most spectacular kitchen and gardens as well as an outdoor marketplace with dozens of vendors along the brick pathways outside the Mansion.
- Appraisal Fest features a weekend of antiques fun with internationally known appraisers Tim Luke and Greg Strahm of TreasureQuest Appraisal Group, Inc. Events include a “Price is Right” cocktail party/auction and an appraisal event where guests can have items appraised by these experts.
- Board Benefit is Wheeling’s premier social event. Presented by the Oglebay Institute Board of Trustees, this lavish party at the elegant 1846 Mansion features gourmet food, cocktails, music, beer garden, and coffee and dessert bar.
School Programs/Educational Outreach
Students can get a hands-on look at Ohio Valley history at the Museums of Oglebay Institute.
- Are taught by museum professionals
- Explore the past through artifacts, photos, documents and interactive activities
- Examine Wheeling’s history from political, economic and cultural perspectives
- Focus on how people lived in the Ohio Valley from the era of George Washington to the times of the Titanic.
In-school programs such as Pioneer Living and Scenes from Our Past are especially appropriate for West Virginia studies. Field Trips are available for all ages at the Mansion and Glass Museums. The Hot Glass Roadshow is a fully operational traveling glass studio complete with a propane-fired glass furnace available for assemblies and special events.