The mission of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) is to preserve and enrich the cultural life and heritage of the Valley.
The Museum sits on land originally claimed by Winchester founder James Wood in 1735. The property was passed through generations of Wood and Glass families until being acquired by Wood descendant Julian Wood Glass Jr. between 1952 and 1955. Aided by a family fortune made in Oklahoma’s oil industry, Glass and his partner at the time, R. Lee Taylor, worked together to transform the site and its Glen Burnie House—built in 1794 by James Wood’s son Robert—into a country retreat. Taylor moved to the site in 1958 and while Glass visited his ancestral home, he was never a full-time resident at Glen Burnie. They furnished the home with objects Glass inherited along with eighteenth-and-nineteenth-century furniture and fine art that Glass purchased for the home. Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century they surrounded the house with six acres of elaborate gardens. By 1960, Glen Burnie had become a showplace where the couple entertained in high style. Even after their romantic relationship ended in the 1970s, the two maintained a working relationship where Taylor continued to live and manage the estate while Glass divided his time between traveling, Glen Burnie, and his residences in Oklahoma, Texas, and New York City. The two men remained gracious hosts together until Glass's death in 1992. Taylor lived at Glen Burnie until his death in 2000.
After Julian Wood Glass's death and as a condition of his will, the house and gardens were opened to the public on a seasonal basis in 1997. In 2005, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley was added as an anchor to the site to both fulfill Glass's vision of sharing his significant collection with the public, and to expand upon that vision to include a space where the art, history, and culture of the Valley could be interpreted. The 50,000-square-foot Museum of the Shenandoah Valley was designed by renowned architect Michael Graves. At 214 acres, the Museum’s landscape is the largest green space in the city of Winchester and the Glen Burnie House and its surrounding seven-acre gardens remain an important part of this year-round regional history complex now known as the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. In late fall of 2020, 90 acres of the MSV landscape will open to the public as The Trails at the MSV, a free-admission art park featuring 3 miles of trails for walking, running, and biking.