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With uncertain funding for Waynesboro museum, sloth exhibit keeps VMNH in public eye

VMNH sloth display museum of natural history
Image courtesy VMNH

Clawd, a life-size sloth, is now on display at the Waynesboro Public Library, and the more than 7-feet tall specimen is courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Named for its formidable claw size, the model has been a museum icon since 1991 and will spend the remainder of the summer on exhibit at the library.

“Clawd has been one of the most enjoyed displays at the museum for over three decades and we want to give audiences in Waynesboro and the surrounding region an opportunity to enjoy it as much as audiences at the museum have,” said VMNH Deputy Director Ryan Barber. “We’ll definitely miss having Clawd at VMNH this summer, but we’re excited it will be more readily available to audiences in other parts of the Commonwealth.”

Now extinct, the ground sloth, Megalonyx Jeffersonii, was prevalent in North America during the last Ice Age including in Virginia.

“Virginia not only has an incredible abundance of present-day biodiversity, but it was also once home to incredible life that many people may not be aware existed,” said Barber.

“By exhibiting Clawd at the library, we want to provide audiences with an idea of the types of stories regarding Virginia’s natural history that we will be able to tell when VMNH-Waynesboro opens its doors.”

The museum has sought opportunities to display exhibit content in and around Waynesboro ever since plans were announced to build a branch campus in the city’s downtown.

The timeline is uncertain for construction of the Waynesboro campus of VMNH after funding for the proposed museum was not included in the state budget. Construction had been scheduled to begin next year.

In 2021, the Waynesboro Public Library opened its doors – and floor space – to the museum to allow it to exhibit a life-size, cast-skeleton of the well-known dinosaur, Triceratops. Later, the lesser-known dinosaur, Tenontosaurus, was added.

“While we will miss the dinosaurs, Waynesboro Public Library is thrilled to host Clawd this summer,” said Waynesboro Public Library Director Susan Versen. “We hope the community will come to the library to see our new guest.”

The museum is temporarily relocating the two dinosaur displays to Martinsville to be exhibited during the museum’s Dino Festival taking place July 26 and 27. The dinosaur displays are scheduled to return to the library at the end of the summer.

Waynesboro Public Library to have VMNH sloth model installed on Monday

Is Waynesboro still getting its museum? State budget leaves money out

Construction set to begin in 2025 on Museum of Natural History Waynesboro campus

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.