Mount Airy Museum Of Regional History
Museum works to spur youth interest
Museum plans events for Teacher Day
The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is holding a Teacher Appreciation Day on Wednesday. The museum is inviting all educators to come and explore the museum and the four programs they have to offer to students, next week, free of admission. Matt Edwards, museum executive director, said student attendance at the museum has slipped in recent years. “This is our way of reaching and reconnecting with the schools and educators,” he said. Edwards hopes that the educators see that the museum can offer a valuable addition to their classroom learning. “We know we offer a great product for kids,” said Edwards. “Our exhibits tell the same story as a museum in Raleigh, only it’s closer to home and more locally focused. It offers a great resource to Surry and surrounding counties,” said Edwards.
The event will be held from 2-5 p.m., with a drawing for door prizes at 4:30 p.m. for registered attendees. Edwards added that docents would be on hand at each exhibit to answer any questions about the exhibit or the four programs the museum currently offers. Those four programs are Moravian Christmas Traditions, A Country Family Goes to Town, Journey Through The Carolinas and Meet Me at Wigwam: A Native American Experience.
Moravian Christmas Traditions: Learn about the Moravian Christmas traditions first brought to this area by the early settlers along the Great Wagon Road in the 1750s. Many of these traditions continue today in the Moravian Church, and in the community as a whole. Topics covered include the “Love Feast,” ornaments, and candlemaking. These tours will be offered ONLY during the first two weeks of December. (One hour and thirty minutes) A craft/materials fee of $5 applies. Group size is 50 students.
A Country Family Goes To Town: Join a rural family as they head into town to visit the blacksmith shop and general store. Decide what things you hope to bring home. Barter eggs and butter with the storekeeper. Sample a stick of candy, learn to shoot marbles (and take them home with you) and catch up on the community news. (1 1/2 hours.) A craft/materials fee of $5 per student applies to this program. Group size limited to 50 students.
Journey Through The Carolinas: Join a pioneer family as they travel down the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road to the Hollows in Surry County. Select the items to take on your journey to survive in your new wilderness home as you help pack the wagon for the trip. Visit the family’s new log cabin home. Talk about the chores the children would have been responsible for and then make a corn husk doll like the ones back country children would have played with. (One hour and thirty minutes.) A craft/materials fee of $5 per student applies to this program. Group size is limited to 40 students.
Meet Me At The Wigwam: A Native American Experience: View a typical Southeastern Native American dwelling as you learn about the culture of the Sauras, the Native Americans who inhabited this region. View the types of items inside and outside of their bark hut, and discuss the importance of these items for everyday use. Participate in games the children played, listen to stories and legends the Eastern Woodland Native Americans would tell their children and sing Native American songs. Create a Native American craft and taste traditional Native American foods such as popcorn, beef jerky, and raisins. (Two hours) A craft/materials fee of $5.00 per student applies to this program. Maximum group size is 50 students.
Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739.
Museum readying for Casino Royale
The Museum of Regional History is preparing for its fifth annual Casino Royale Fundraiser. The event is held at Cross Creek Country Club, this year scheduled for Friday, Sept. 18. The evening will start at 6;30 p.m. featuring an open bar and heavy horderves bar, followed by the gaming from 7-10 p.m., with a red carpet rolled out for guests.
The event is one of the most significant fundraisers the museum does each year; with an open bar and night of gambling with money that you don’t actually have to spend, it’s easy to see why. A company comes in sets up several gaming tables such as roulette, craps and blackjack.
“Once again this year, we’re working with a group of professionals who bring in professionally-trained dealers and croupiers. This isn’t like we have volunteers running the tables, these are professionals,” said museum Executive Director Matt Edwards. “People do things they would never do in real life; betting $100,000 is not something the average person is able to do, and that excites people,” Edwards said. “We like to present a high-quality experience for our supporter,” he said. Throughout the night a reverse raffle will be drawn with random winners of $100, and the last ticket drawn will win a $6,000 jack-pot. A cap of 300 tickets will be held for this portion of the night.
A silent auction will also be ongoing throughout the night with higher-end items such as vacation packages, electronics, a custom made quilt, Tour de’ Mayberry basket featuring gift certificates to every restaurant on Main Street and many more items. “The fun is high stakes gambling with essentially free money. Who doesn’t like going all in with $50,000 and knowing you’re not going to lose a dime at the end of the night, except what you spend on the silent auction of course, ” said Jessica Bolick, a museum board member.
Tickets to both the draw-down raffle and the fundraiser can be purchased seperately or together. The price for just the event is $65 per person, the price for both the raffle and the event is $150 dollars. The raffle can also be purchased alone for $100 dollars. “This is a critically important event for the museum,” said Edwards. The net profit was nearly $26,000 last year. “It’s a great date night for the average couple. I’ve never had anyone tell me it’s not been fun,” Edwards said.
Photos taken by Maggie Nicholson Photography.
Museum making changes to exhibits
The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is making a few changes for the summer and beyond.
The first is a grant it received to provide an expansion to The Luthier’s Craft exhibit. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership provided the $6,500 grant to support the development of the traveling exhibit.
The exhibit explores the luthier’s craft of making stringed instruments and will include sections on banjo, guitar, and fiddle creation in the southern Appalachia and Blue Ridge Mountain areas, as well as biographical information on the luthiers.
The exhibit includes a number of hands-on activities, audio/visual, and interactive components
The Luthier’s Craft exhibit originally opened in 2013 and then in 2014 it traveled to the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, as well as to the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards event in Raleigh.
This new component opened the first weekend of June for the Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention. Th museum is working on a new traveling component as well that should be finished by the end of the year.
The permanent component of “The Luthier’s Craft” was developed as a way to showcase the local craftsmen highlighted in the traveling exhibit as well as other area luthiers on a permanent basis in the museum.
“There is more to the rich musical heritage our area than just musicians. There’s a long and vibrant tradition of craftsmen building the instruments that make up the musical soul of this area,” said Matt Edwards, executive director of the museum.
This comes at a time when the museum is putting more focus on its displays, Edwards explained.
“After an incredibly active period of public programming in the late winter and early spring of this year, we planned to take a step back and focus our attentions on exhibit upgrades and enhancements rather than programming during the spring and summer months,” Edwards said. “We really want to make sure that we keep things fresh and new for our visitors.”
Since the Smithsonian’s “Hometown Teams” exhibit left the library in mid-April, and will be traveling to five other states, the museum has been focused on updating existing exhibits as well as instilling some new ones.
The Fire engine exhibit changes include repairs to the “hands-on” fire pole activity as well as the addition of a second kids-sized fire engine in the exhibit space.
The Model T exhibit changes included the addition of some graphics and a change to the tool display.
The children’s gallery changes included repairs to costuming and the addition of some new components within the exhibit itself. “We’ll also be adding in another hand-painted backdrop for the stage space in the next few week.” Edwards stated.
The artwork for the backdrop was done by the Women’s League of Mount Airy.
A new exhibit the museum is installing for public display ties in with the region’s old time music history in a new way, showing WPAQ letters. The letters were donated by WPAQ after they were removed during renovations to the station’s building and were too far deteriorated to be put back up.
“We unveiled the restored letters last summer at a screening of the documentary about Ralph Epperson and WPAQ and we’re finally ready to get them installed and on display in our hometown heroes gallery on the second floor,” said Edwards
The Donna Fargo exhibit also received some new costuming that is now available to view.
A new changing exhibit for the changing exhibit gallery will be in place by July 4.
The museum is also offering its annual story telling every second Saturday of the month throughout the summer.
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