STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - Monday would have been Woodrow Wilson’s 164th birthday. Usually, on this day, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum opens its doors to the public for a free open house and tours of Wilson’s birthplace. Except this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum hosted a virtual birthday celebration.
President Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton on December 28, 1856. The museum celebrated the occasion with a virtual talk about Wilson’s 1912 visit.
“In 1912 Woodrow Wilson had been elected president of the United States, but not yet inaugurated,” said Museum Curator Andrew Phillips. “He chose to celebrate that birthday, his 56th, at his birthplace.”
And they launched a new 360 tour of the president’s birthplace which has been closed since March due to social distancing restrictions.
“So you get to feel like you get to walk through the manse even though you can’t physically go in there right now,” said the Museum Director of Education Emily Kilgore.
The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum has been offering all kinds of virtual programming since the start of the pandemic with an unexpected benefit.
“While we may have only reached a Virginia audience in a normal year,” stated Kilgore. “With these virtual programs, we do have people from all over the world watching.”
They’re continuing to find new ways to not only stay open but to stay relevant.
“People are really looking at history differently,” said Kilgore. “So we’re doing whatever we can to stay relevant to the conversation nationwide. They’re sharing Wilson’s story, warts and all. In today’s world and today’s nation, we definitely need to make sure Wilson’s story is told and the whole story is told so we utilize the birthday to tell that.”
More information about programming at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is available on their website.