What Do Heritage Farm and the Smithsonian Have in Common?


A museum sits just outside of Huntington that many in the state would consider a hidden gem.

The Heritage Farm Museum and Village has been named the state of West Virginia’s first Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. The affiliation will allow the museum to use the resources and learning opportunities that the Smithsonian provides.

Heritage Farm was founded in 1996 by Henriella and Mike Perry. Their idea and mission was to provide a museum-like setting that would give students from the region a chance to learn about the history and ingenuity of Appalachia.  Audy Perry is the son of Henriella and Mike and the executive director of the Heritage Farm Foundation. 

It is a tremendous stamp of approval, when you yourself want to be excellent you want to surround yourself with excellence and there are many things we try to do out here and first foremost is to be an educational facility and the Smithsonian is the pinnacle of that so we pursued an affiliation with them so we could not only measure ourselves, but learn. – Audy Perry

Historic Appalachian artifacts are featured in seven different buildings spread across the farm. Thirty log structures sit on the property that also gives students an opportunity to visit with animals. Perry said the designation helps cement a legacy for the farm started by his father. His father Mike Perry passed away just a few weeks ago.


Credit Clark Davis / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Perry said the process started in the fall by filling out an over a 250-page application and submitting it to the Smithsonian. He said after waiting for a while they inquired about their application and were told in January they would receive the designation.

Alma Douglas is the National Outreach Manager for the Smithsonian Institute. 

Heritage Farm is a wonderful example of the sharing of the Appalachian culture in its community. I think it’s a rich educational resource, but not just for the community, but for the visiting public. We are pleased to enter into a partnership with them and look forward to having a productive relationship in the sharing or resources with the Smithsonian. – Alma Douglas

It’s that sharing of resources that’s key according to Audy Perry in providing local educators with more options. He said they’ve always wanted to provide local students with the chance to learn in a different environment, but now with the opportunity to be able to borrow materials and resources from the Smithsonian they can help even more.

What we hope to do is to be able to be more responsive to teacher needs. We have a wonderful education program about what we have here, but we’ve never really asked the question what else do you need to the teachers who are bringing their students. – Audy Perry

The farm is now one of 180 Smithsonian Affiliates in 45 states.