Museum celebrates Lewis Miller’s birthday

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Marty Gordon
Contributing writer

Photo by Marty Gordon
The Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center remembered the artist that it is named for with a bit of cake and birthday party earlier this week.

Lewis Miller has been called a chronicler—an artist who remembered life through his paintings and sketches. The Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center are named for him because of connection to Christiansburg and the county.


This week, the museum celebrated his 231st birthday. He was born in 1796 in York, Pennsylvania, the son of German immigrants. His father was a teacher, but it would be his apprenticeship with his brother, learning carpentry and house building, that might have led him to first step in art.

Historical documents say Miller then became that “chronicler” of the world around him that became his important pieces of art. He started sketching historical items that he saw in his life. He produced nearly 2,000 drawings over a period of 70 years with more than 300 of Virginia and a little town called Christiansburg.

Sue Farrar is the executive director of the museum and felt it was a great time to re-introduce the art centers namesake to the community.

The event was part of the GiveBigNRV effort on Wednesday to encourage charitable giving in the New River Valley and to promote the dozens of nonprofit organizations serving the region.

GiveBigNRV is an initiative of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.

Started in 2014 in celebration of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley’s (CFNRV) 20th anniversary, the website for the effort allowed donors to give easily and securely online to their favorite nonprofit organization or to any of the CFNRV’s endowed funds.

The effort collected $220,192 in the 24-hour period with $217,885 being collected last year. Also, the group with the most unduplicated donors during the period of time receives a grant from the Community Foundation.

The YMCA at Virginia Tech collected the most money this year at $28,863. St. John Neumann Academy had the most donors with 229 and Floyd Center for the Arts at 195.

Again, the Montgomery Museum took the opportunity to remember its namesake—Lewis Miller, whose work depicted the life of ordinary people.

He frequently visited relatives in Christiansburg, drawing and capturing scenes and events for posterity.
Lewis is known for a series of watercolors showing scenes of York during the Civil War, including several related to battles in Gettysburg and Hanover.

From 1862-1882, Miller resided in Christiansburg and is buried in the Craig Cemetery, which is located on the Montgomery Museum’s grounds.

Miller’s works can be found on the walls of the museum and in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg.

For more information on Lewis Miller and the Montgomery Museum, go to www. montgomerymuseum.org.