The Blue Ridge Institute & Museum was established by Ferrum College in the early 1970s to document, interpret, and present the folk heritage of the Blue Ridge region. Since that time the Institute has grown steadily, expanding its programming, research, and fieldwork throughout Virginia while maintaining an emphasis upon the western portion of the state. In recognition of its contributions to the public’s understanding of the heritage of Virginia, the Institute was designated the State Center for Blue Ridge Folklore by Governor Gerald Baliles and the Virginia State Legislature in 1986.
The Blue Ridge Institute & Museum has earned a reputation for quality programs. From museum exhibits and documentary television productions to festivals and public school presentations, Institute activities reach audiences of all backgrounds and ages. Well over one million people have enjoyed BRI productions. In addition the Institute serves as a consulting resource for organizations, schools, community organizers, publishers, and news media seeking to add elements of folk heritage to their own activities.
Along with the Blue Ridge Institute’s professional staff, Ferrum College students work at the BRI, gaining hands-on experience in skills ranging from archiving and artifact conservation to exhibit installation and heirloom gardening. The Institute also provides work experience to graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of colleges and universities through internships.