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WVU museum hosts ‘Coal Camp Memories'

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Karen Vuranch as "Hallie Marie" Karen Vuranch as "Hallie Marie"
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MORGANTOWN, WV -

West Virginia University will host "Coal Camp Memories," a one-act storytelling drama that chronicles a woman's life in the West Virginia coalfields. The performance is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum in Morgantown.

In the performance, professional storyteller and writer Karen Vuranch assumes the persona of "Hallie Marie" to present a composite memory of coal camp life, as she ages before the audience from a 10-year-old girl to a wise old woman. Vuranch's dramatization is based on her personal research on coal camp life and is accompanied by traditional Appalachian music.

Following the performance, guests can observe quilting, crochet and marble game demonstrations, among other coal camp activities. The Watts Museum's current exhibit, "Outside the Mine: Daily Life in a Coal Company Camp," will also be open during the event. The exhibit explores the lives of miners and their families in the coal towns of Appalachia and the distinct coal camp culture that developed.

"Karen's performance will add another dimension to our current museum exhibit by bringing the story of the exhibit to life," said Watts Museum Curator Danielle Petrak. "She can take our ‘Outside the Mine' exhibit outside the museum, so to speak, and share it with the public."

The event will take place in the atrium of the Mineral Resources Building on WVU's Evans dale campus. Admission is free, and parking is available outside the Mineral Resources Building. For information, contact the museum at 304-293-4609 or wattsmuseum@mail.wvu.edu.

Housed in the Benjamin M. Staler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, the museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the social, cultural and technological history of the coal, oil and natural gas industries of the state of West Virginia through the collection, preservation, research and exhibition of objects relevant to these industries.