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All of the information you, or your group will need to plan a visit to the museum, including our schedule, hours, rates & more!

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Changing Exhibits

October 1, 2018 - January 5, 2019

Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats


Upcoming Events

Thu Dec 20 @ 3:30pm -
NO MEETING for the Tar Heel Junior Historians
Fri Dec 21 @10:00am - 05:00pm
Surry County Schools Teacher Workday Camp
Mon Dec 24 @10:00am - 05:00pm
Museum is Closed for the Christmas Holiday

Who We Are


Mount Airy Museum of Regional History

IMG_8201_-_Copy_606x640 Ours is an all American story - typical of how communities grew up all across our great nation. While our story takes place in the back country of northwestern North Carolina at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is likely to bear many similarities to the development of crossroads, towns, and cities throughout America.

It had taken little more than 100 years for the corridors along the coastline of this still-new continent to overflow. As tensions grew and conflicts flared, the pioneer spirit set in. Families literally packed up everything they owned and headed into the unknown-searching for the "promised land."

Mission Statement:

The Purpose of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is to  Collect, Preserve and Interpret the Natural, Historic, and Artistic Heritage of the Region

                                                                      Adopted by the Board of Directors   October 9, 1995

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Mount Airy Museum Of Regional History

Grant Received From Duke Energy

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Contact: Matt Edwards, Mount Airy Museum of Regional History Executive Director


February 3, 2016

The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History has been awarded a $3,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation in support of the annual changing exhibits program.

Each year the museum develops and displays three to four changing exhibits on topics relevant to our area’s history, art or culture. During 2016, the museum will be hosting local photographer Kenny Hooker, the traveling exhibit “We are the Music Makers,” and museum curated exhibits on Surry County Quilting Traditions and Technology Advances of the Farm and Home from 1860-1960.

“The changing exhibit program is an important part of our mission to collect, preserve and interpret our shared history” says the museum’s Executive Director Matt Edwards. “These exhibits give us a chance to delve into parts of our collection that aren’t normally on display and to work with local collectors to tell unique and interesting stories from the past” he adds.

Duke Energy is a long-time supporter of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History with capital, program and operating support dating back to the museum’s establishment in 1993. “Duke Energy is proud to be a supporter of the Mt Airy Museum for Regional History and to help enable new exhibits. It’s important to understand the history of our region. The museum is an important part of the community, providing an educational experience for both young and old,” said Jimmy Flythe, Director - West Region, Government and Community Relations of Duke Energy Carolinas.

The Duke Energy Foundation actively works to improve the quality of life in its communities, lending expertise in the form of leadership and philanthropic support to charitable organizations. Duke Energy has long been committed to building and supporting the communities in which its customers and employees live and work.

For more information about the museum’s upcoming exhibit and programs visit the website at

Museum to host genealogy swap meet

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To those seeking a productive way to spend a Saturday afternoon in the dead of winter, the Surry County Genealogy Association has a suggestion:

Attend a free family history and genealogy swap meet scheduled Saturday at Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the third floor of the museum on North Main Street.

After being held sporadically over the years, the genealogy swap meet was conducted in 2015. It now is planned for the second year in a row on the final Saturday in January, after a big turnout the last time — apparently fueled by a renewed interest among the public in family history.

“Last year, we had so many people there,” Esther Johnson, president of the Surry County Genealogy Association, said of the bustling activity at the museum. Tables were set up all over the third floor, filled with published family histories, laptop computers and more.

As was the case last year, Don Edmonds, a member of the group, will have a computer there offering free access to the Internet site, a key source for genealogical information.

A copying machine will be available on-site.

“But the big thing is, everybody is invited,” Johnson said. “This is a fun time for everyone.”

Novice? No problem

The event is geared both toward those who’ve never even gotten started researching their roots and veteran genealogists who might be seeking a key bit of information to connect a family line.

In addition to the hard-copy and digital resources available, many at last year’s family history and genealogy swap meet said they appreciated the opportunity it offered to interact with others and exchange information. In at least one case, two strangers there realized they were related.

Anyone connected with a history or genealogy group is invited to come and set up for the swap meet and advertise their group. They may sell books, maps and other materials from those groups.

Authors also are invited to come and put out their books to sell.

Those attending are asked to bring and display their genealogy information so everyone can make connections and find new family facts, Johnson added.

“If you have never done genealogy, don’t worry — come and see if someone else has done the research of your family.”

Such an event is important to the mission of the Surry County Genealogy Association, according to Johnson, a charter member of the group that will celebrate its 35th birthday in May.

The association was formed in 1981 with the help of Carlos Surratt, a late longtime official of Surry Community College and noted local historian, to help people trace their family roots and learn about ancestors, preserve records and gain knowledge about the history of this area.

“It is up to us to know and write and tell the truth about our families,” Johnson said.

Community members, youth honored at MLK tribute

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Near the beginning of a ceremony honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Saturday night, event organizer Cheryl Yellow Fawn Scott asked each half of the audience to stand and thank the people in the other half.  The crowd of more than 100, filling the third floor of the Mount Airy Museum of Modern History and divided only by the center aisle, happily complied.  The gesture set the tone for the evening, a lesson in brotherhood and a reminder of how the civil rights icon changed lives in big ways and small. Now in its 12th year, the program titled, “In The Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Surry Countians Continuing the Dream,” serves as a bridge between past, present and future.

Through musical performances, poetry, storytelling and speakers sharing excerpts from some of King’s most poigniant speeches and writings, the civil rights icon and other influential figures were honored and remembered. Chrissie Watkins’ dynamic reading of the poem “Go Down, Death (A Funeral Sermon)” by James Weldon Johnson drew one of many standing ovations.  Other performances at the gathering included Marie Nicholson’s creative interpretation of “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” sung by soloist Revetta King, and storyteller Terri Ingalls’ story of Robert Small’s “pivotal moment.”  A rendition of Jesus, My Rock by the Triumphant Pentecostal Church Choir had most people’s hands clapping and feet stomping. 

With an eye toward the present, several individuals were recognized at intervals throughout the program for their work embodying different aspects of King’s teaching: E.J. Spencer, self-reliance, Karl Allen, leadership; Edward Spencer, perseverance; and Donnie Nicholson, service.  “I love people,” Spencer said to the audience, noting a simple philosophy that drove him: “Treat people like you want to be treated.”  Many responded to that with an emphatic “Amen.”  The program culminated with the presentation of the annual Martin Luther King Dreamer’s Award — named for King’s most famous speech — which was given to Jimmy Stockton.  Scott said that the most important group highlighted in the program is that who represent the future.  Four young people were recognized for their activism and contributions to church and community: Cheyenne Allen, Iyana Hughes, Shapell Hughes and Braxton Easter.  “We look at the youth who are in different ways embodying the life and ways of Dr. King,” Scott said. “We honor and recognize them for the work that they do.” 

Matthew Edwards, museum director, said the event is one he looks forward to bringing his children to every year.  “This is always one of our best attended programs,” he said. “We’re just the host venue, and we’re grateful to be beneficiaries to this event.”  “It’s like old home week here,” Edwards told the crowd of more than 100. “A lot of the folks have been coming here for years. It’s great to have them here at the museum.”

Museum to host MLK tribute

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Martin Luther King Day will be celebrated nationwide Monday, but local residents will get a head start on that Saturday night with an annual program honoring the iconic civil rights leader. Mount Airy Museum of Regional History once again is hosting the event, now in its 12th year, which will begin at 7 p.m. on the museum’s third floor. The program that is free and open to the public typically is heavily attended — even on a cold January night.

“It’s always a big one — standing room only last year,” museum Executive Director Matt Edwards commented regarding the gathering that has been known to draw up to 125 people. Saturday night’s event will include music, recitations of works by authors such as Maya Angelou and special recognitions of local citizens.  Its focus not only will honor the life of King and the lessons he espoused, but how those citizens are carrying on his dream nearly 50 years after King’s death.  This will include an emphasis on local young people who are setting a good example for others.  “We did that last year for the first time, specifically recognizing youths,” said Cheryl Yellow Fawn Scott, one of the organizers of the event.  Four young people are scheduled to be highlighted as part of the program’s 2016 Youth of Excellence theme — Iyana Hughes, Cheyenne Allen, Shapell Hughes and Braxton Easter.  These youths will be recognized for making a collective difference through academic achievements, community activities, church involvement and other areas, Scott said. 

Five adults who have distinguished themselves in the community also will be part of Saturday’s program, to include E.J. Spencer, Karl Allen, Donnie Nicholson, Jimmy Stockton and Edward Spencer.  The lives and work of each will be highlighted, Scott said, and one of the five will be named this year’s recipient of the Martin Luther King Dreamer’s Award. It basically is named for the “I Have a Dream” speech King delivered in 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Its focus on the fine examples set by local residents is one reason why the annual MLK program at the museum is so popular, according to LaDonna McCarther, another of its organizers. Attendees are able to see living embodiments of King’s teachings and concern for the betterment of mankind.  “I think it’s because, number one, it recognizes individuals in Surry County and Mount Airy city that have contributed to the area, who have started in unlikely situations and become productive citizens,” McCarther said of the annual program’s importance.  She mentioned how some have overcome various obstacles and succeeded via the struggle for equality that Dr. King championed.  “They’re role models.”

Program highlights

Among other activities or individuals slated to be part of Saturday night’s program are:

• Terri Ingalls, the president-elect of the North Carolina Storytelling Guild, who will render a relevant story based on true events;

• A poetic presentation by Marie Nicholson from Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise;”

• Singer and songwriter Evelyn Gentry Howie;

• Excerpts from poet James Weldon Johnson’s “God’s Trombones”/”Go Down Death,” presented by Chrissie Watkins;

• Soloists Dennis France and Eric Strickland;

• The singing of the national anthem by Tracy Greenwood;

• An appearance by the City of Mount Airy Honor Guard;

• A reading by Jonathan Lightfoot;

• “The Lord’s Prayer,” featuring a delivery of the prayer in American sign language by Janice Thompson.

Other participants could be added before the program is finalized, according to McCarther, who added that refreshments will be served afterward.  “We couldn’t do it without the staff there at the museum,” she said of the help it gives in organizing the event.  Refreshments will be served after the program.

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