The Arts are Alive on Campus: Shimmering Wonders and Hidden Gems

Looking to enjoy a nice day in the gallery, take a walk around campus, or just explore the history of James Madison University? Well, look no further! Here are the best places on campus to stay in touch with what is happening!

All that glitters isn’t gold, but the Lisanby Museum, Madison Art Collection, and the Mineral Museum will make you think you’ve found an exclusive gem in the Shenandoah Valley!

The Lisanby Museum and the Madison Art Collection are located on the lower level of Festival Conference and Student Center on East Campus in room 1108. The premier collection ranges from prehistoric to contemporary art- perfect for anyone interested in art, the world, culture, and history! The museum is always free and open to the public, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Their current exhibition is All That Glitters: A Collaboration with the Madison Mineral Museum, which will close on April 24, 2020. All That Glitters presents minerals alongside work from the Madison Art Collection. These pairings highlight subjects of culture, time, material, and beauty that will leave you asking for more, and is great for visitors of all ages. Speaking of gems, the minerals within the exhibition are from the James Madison Mineral Collection and Museum that contains a wide variety of precious minerals.

The James Madison Mineral Collection is world renowned and as of spring 2020, the museum has been moved to the lower level of the Festival Conference and Student Center on East Campus, which is down the hall from the Lisanby Museum and the Madison Art Collection. The museum’s grand reopening will be held April 17, 2020, perfect timing for MARAC Spring 2020, and will feature the best JMU has to offer, including 600 crystals and gemstones from across the globe!

Afterwards, sit in the lobby near the windows or outside on the patio to see the brilliant view of our infamous sunsets, majestic purple mountains, and the sloping hills of campus!

-Renessa Rabenda, James Madison University

Downtown Harrisonburg Noshes #1

So, you’re in town for the MARAC conference and need to know where to grab a bite to eat. Don’t worry. As a self-proclaimed food enthusiast, I can be of great assistance in your quest for scrumptious noshes. But it’s not just about the food. You need to experience an eatery where the atmosphere and the culinary tastes collide, forming together in perfect unison. Thus, not only will I recommend restaurants with good food, but places where you can sit back, relax, and fully enjoy the company and conversation that follow.

With the conference being held in April, it’s likely you’ll experience mildly dreary weather. And if that’s the case, warm, comforting food may be just the panacea for the springtime drizzle. If you’re in the mood for a chill, cozy spot somewhat out of the way of downtown, I would suggest Vietopia Vietnamese Cuisine located at 1015 Port Republic Road. It’s a quaint structure, minimalist in furnishing. There are no more than eight tables in the place. Still, the close quarters offer an intimate place, setting promising friendly and pleasant conversations for the table. While many of the items here are delicious, the one I must insist on it their pho (pronounced fuh for those unfamiliar with the dish).

Pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat (they do offer vegetarian options). Several accoutrements accompany the dish, including hoisin sauce, fish sauce, chili garlic paste, and chili oil. While the soup alone is gorgeously flavored with a savory broth accented by star anise, cloves, and cinnamon, the accoutrements provide an umami forward flavor profile that SHOULD NOT be skipped. The hoisin provides a little sweet, the fish sauce a little funk, and the chili garlic paste and chili oil combine to produce two layers of heat sure to make you sweat (but like I said, its cold and rainy, so bring on the heat!) Together, the beautifully spiced broth, unctuous meats and delectable dressings create an experience far worth the $9 and some change you’ll spend.

If soup isn’t your thing (I highly suggest you re-evaluate your life choices, but we’ll leave that conversation for another day), I would like to offer one other alternative. This, too, is a bowl full of good, but in the form of Korean Bibimbap. Overflowing with mixed rice, greens, veggies, egg, and meat (if you so desire), Mashita’s bibimbap offers all the comforts and delight of the Vietopia pho, but with a little more body. What’s not to love? Rice, carby, and delightful. Greens and veggies, hey, we all gotta get them somehow. A perfectly fried, slightly runny egg, which can only be described as golden nectar of the gods, in my opinion. You may choose from beef, chicken, pork, tofu or mushrooms as your protein, but my personal favorite is the pork belly. It’s fatty and salty and oh so pleasing. Finally, the sauce, but this isn’t the time to make rash decisions. No, the sauce binds all the ingredients together, creating a savory, umami-packed dish that tantalizes every taste bud. Again, my personal favorite is the spicy gochujang, as all the ingredients benefit from the slight heat offered by the gochugaru pepper-based sauce, but they do offer sweetened soy and sweet and spicy sauces. Like Vietopia, the restaurant is small, but in a cozy and inviting way. Its conveniently located at the corner of W. Elizabeth and Liberty Street (105 N. Liberty Street).

-Kayla Heslin, James Madison University

Registration Now Open!

Register NOW for MARAC Spring 2020 in Harrisonburg!

Register online via the Spring 2020 Meeting Registration Form. You may choose to pay online or request an invoice to pay at a later date. You may also download a registration form to complete and mail in with payment. If you plan to split the payment for your conference fees with your employer, please review Instructions for Split Payments prior to registering. Early discount prices end March 12, 2020.

Review the conference program for complete details.

We look forward to seeing you in The Friendly City!


Scholarships available for MARAC Spring 2020 in Harrisonburg

There are three awards available for MARAC Spring 2020 in Harrisonburg:

1) Marsha Trimble Meeting and Travel Award ($400)
2) Joan Echtenkamp Klein Meeting and Travel Award ($250)
3) Karen A. Stuart Local History Collection Workshop & Conference Attendance Award

Additional information about each award is included below.

APPLICATION: Applicants for awards should submit the following:

1) Cover letter that includes:
a) Award for which you are applying (name and amount)
b) Statement of financial need
c) Expected benefits of attending the conference (citing specific sessions or workshops of interest)

2) Resume

3) Letter of reference from a person with knowledge of the applicant’s work (sent directly to the MARAC Scholarship Committee Chair, Cindy Bendroth, via email at

DEADLINE: March 13, 2020 for the Spring 2020 Harrisonburg, VA meeting

TO APPLY: Send a single PDF of the cover letter and resume to Cindy Bendroth , MARAC Scholarship Committee Chair, at Letter of recommendation should be sent by the reference as a PDF directly to Cindy Bendroth, MARAC Scholarship Committee Chair, at Please include MARAC Scholarship Application in the subject line. All applicants will receive an email confirming their application has been received.

More  information is available at