Plan A Visit

**With the health and safety of our community, volunteers and staff in mind the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History will be closing to the public at 5:00PM, Tuesday March 17 and will remain closed until further notice.  During this time the museum’s staff will be on site working during regular operating hours and can be reached by phone or email. As we work our way through this situation we’ll be launching some new web-based programming and activities so please follow our social media feeds for more information on those offerings as they develop. Our apologies for any inconvenience and thanks for your understanding and support.**

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

If you are planning a visit for a school group, please see our "For Educators" section.

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Changing Exhibits

Coming Soon-  Spirited: Prohibition in America

Upcoming Events

Fri Aug 07 @ 8:00pm - 09:30pm
Historic Downtown Mount Airy Ghost Tours

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

The badge is back, more events planned

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“We’ll just have to wait and see,” said Matt Edwards. The executive director of Mount Airy Museum of Regional History speaking about the possibility of big changes in store for Mount Airy’s fourth New Year’s Eve badge drop in the museum courtyard. Edwards was less cagey about fundraising events planned for the early part of the evening. A three-tiered menu of events is planned, available as a package or à la carte.

The top-tier full package starts with a three-course dinner at Old North State Winery, with a special New Year’s Eve menu by chef Chris Wishart with seatings at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., followed by special activities at the museum, culminating with a champagne toast for the midnight badge drop. The middle-tier foregoes the dinner, allowing guests to enjoy the museum activities at a reduced cost, and the final tier is the badge drop which is offered to the community free of charge. “We’re excited to have activities in our space,” said Edwards of the museum plans, which are a departure from past years, when dinner and the badge drop book-ended the evening, but left a hole in the center. This year activities are planned for both children and adults.  “It will be an enjoyable way to fill the time between dinner service and midnight for people who are not necessarily looking for a super-raucous party night,” said Edwards. “And folks who are unfamiliar with our facility can experience it in a fun way.”

“Kids New Year” is from 6 to 8 p.m. and will offer a fun place for the kids while their adults enjoy the early seating at Old North State, or dinner elsewhere if they go à la carte. The two hours of fun will count down to a mock-midnight at 8 p.m. “We’re thinking along ‘It’s 5 o’clock somewhere’ lines,” said Edwards. “And at 8 p.m., it’s midnight in the Azores, so the kids will celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Azores. It will let kids who don’t stay up until midnight have a chance to be part of the fun.”

“21+ New Years at the Museum” is from 9 p.m. until midnight will give adults time for some fun stuff while waiting to ring in the new year. There will be live music with Brian Gray and Raven Drums on the third floor of the museum. Along with a cash bar, there will be a trivia night station, an adult craft station, a storytelling station, custom wine glasses and champagne toast at midnight.

Live music will begin in the museum’s courtyard at 11 p.m. with “Going Dutch,” who will play until the midnight badge drop. “Going Dutch” is a local band which played often in the area while in high school, according to Edwards, but after going away to college, get together during their Christmas break to play.

As far as possible changes, upgrades and technological improvements to the badge drop itself, Edwards said that is totally in the hands of Mark Brown, who has complete creative license over the event. “He’s been dabbling with some things,” said Edwards, still being cagey. Finally Edwards came clean and spilled, “Mark wants to completely lighten the weight of the badge, so he can lift it with a drone. But it probably won’t be this year.”

Mayberry could be barreling headlong toward a collision with 21st-century technology in 2018.

Tickets for the full evening are $75 each and include dinner, admission for one for activities at the museum and a champagne toast at midnight. “Kids New Year” is 6-8 p.m. and “21+ New Years at the Museum” is 9 p.m.-midnight. Tickets for both are $25 each. Badge drop in the courtyard is free to the public.

The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is located at 301 N. Main St., Mount Airy, NC. Old North State Winery is across the roadway at 308 N. Main St. Tickets can be purchased at the museum or by calling 336-789-9463.

Museum event morphs and masks!

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It’s not a costume party,” Matt Edwards, executive director of Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, was quick to point out as he spoke of the museum’s replacement for their popular “Casino Royale” fundraising event.

To put it in old movie terms, the museum is going less James Bond and more Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

Last year, Edwards said he learned that the Casino Royale event “operated in a very gray area legally. It was pretty much black.”

After consulting with a number of lawyers and district attorneys, the museum board felt a casino event was not something with which they could move forward. It turns out, under North Carolina law, possession of the gaming tables and equipment used in casino nights are illegal to own, even if they are used for charity events.

Edwards said things looked up for a few minutes when a bill came before the NC legislature to allow non-profits to legally hold gaming fundraisers like the ones the museum has held in the past. But, just as it has done every two or three years for the past 25 years, said Edwards, it petered out and died in committee.

So the museum revamped its theme, and after considering a few things, decided on the classic dinner-dance model, and to tie in to the spirit of the season, made it a masked ball. Call it what you will, masquerade ball, masked ball, bal masque, it’s a black-tie-optional dinner/dance where guests wear masks.

Guests can make or purchase masks as extravagant — or not — as they wish.

“And we are happy to provide masks” for guests who don’t want to get into all that, Edwards said.

Will there be a grand unmasking at midnight? “No,” laughed Edwards. “Our crowd won’t make it to midnight.” And indeed the event is scheduled for 6:30 to 11 p.m.

Edwards said that when he came on board with the museum in 2009, the old-school black tie galas were starting to lose steam. The world had become a more casual place and there was less interest in dressing up than there had been before.

“The cost of putting them on exceeded profitability,” said Edwards. He is hoping this event will be heavily sponsored, with sponsorships still coming in.

The Casino Royale was a fresh angle for fundraising, but as it is no longer available, Edwards thought it was a good time to revisit the classic, especially with the added twist of a masquerade.

It’s an important decision, as the fall fundraising event funds about 15% of the museum’s overall budget for the year and is critical in funding day to day operations at the museum. Unlike most non-profits, the museum is on a calendar fiscal year and “this event is ‘make or break’ for us to end the year in a good place,” said Edwards. “And then we jump on that roller coaster all over again.”

Night For the Museum Masquerade Ball is Friday, from 6:30 – 11:30 p.m. at Cross Creek Country Club, 1129 Greenhill Road, Mount Airy. There will be food, music by Continental Divide featuring 2016 Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame inductee Gene Pharr, a draw-down grand prize of $6,000 cash, and five periodic prizes of $100 and a silent/live auction featuring items such as vacation home rentals, sports equipment and artwork.

Tickets are $65 per person and draw-down tickets are $100. A couples package is available for $200 which includes two event tickets and one draw-down ticket.

For tickets or further information, call the museum at 336-786-4478 or contact a museum board member.

Pedal Cars Roll into Museum Display

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The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History opened a new exhibit this week.

Many an adult will be transported back to a childhood long ago by the broad display of pedal cars on the third floor.

Pedal cars are small vehicles that a child could use to move about by pedaling like a bicycle.

According to Wikipedia, pedal cars derived from the quadracycle. When the first bicycles were under development in the mid-19th century, the bikes didn’t ride very well and weren’t stable. At the World’s Fair in 1983 in New York City, a quadracycle (or four-wheeled bike) was shown, the earliest recorded evidence.

Similar to its two-wheeled cousin, sometimes called the velocipede, the quadracycle had two huge wheels supporting where the rider sat with two tiny wheels for balance. Over the next few decades, both the two-wheel and four-wheel designs would shrink the large wheels down. The first modern-looking bike reportedly was debuted in 1885. The tiny, children’s version of a quadracycle would show up just a few years later, based off a new invention: the horseless carriage.

When introduced in the 1890s, pedal cars “captured the grandeur of a new mechanical and industrial age,” says one display in the exhibit. Their styling mimicked both the transportation methods of the day (like early cars) to creations captured in the imaginations of young readers like rocket ships.

The earliest pedal cars were considered quite expensive for their day, but the appeal was so widespread that less affluent parents and children would build their own replicas out of whatever materials they could find.

While baby boomers may think of their childhood days as the golden age of pedal cars, the museum research shows that the real peak was before the Great Depression hit in the early 1930s.

Because of its reliance on metal, pedal car production halted altogether during World War II because all metal production was directed to war efforts.

There was a pedal car resurgence during the baby boom days after World War II.

After JFK made his proclamation that the U.S. would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, imaginations turned toward the space age.

Pedal car companies tried to change with the times, offering more futuristic designs, but there was also a growing industry of plastic toys stealing market share. One rival combined both plastic and pedaling with the Big Wheel from Louis Marx and Co. in 1969 — and immortalized in the 1977 horror film “The Shining.”

During the 1970s, one of the pedal car leaders, Murray, converted to lawnmower production.

Since 1979, companies like Rubbermaid and Fisher Price have made all-plastic vehicles similar to pedal cars.

Still, the baby boomers who grew up in the 1950s and ’60s brought a nostalgic revival of the pedal car at the start of the 21st century. The older models have been brought out of attics, basements and barns to be restored and displayed.

Website is dedicated to the history of these toys.

“They have a fabulous build quality unlike the plastic models that came out in the late 1970s,” says the website. “These pedal cars and other toys were constructed with pure steel.”

If a company were trying to build a new pedal car by the standards of yesteryear, the costs would be a couple of hundred dollars, the site notes.

And for classics in mint condition, the values can be sky high. For example, a 1955 Chevrolet pedal car can go for as much as $1,750, the site quotes. A 1922 Model T Ford would cost a whopping $2,800.

Rather than pay those kind of prices, the admission fee for the museum is only $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for students and free for children 4 and under.

For more information on the museum, check out the web page at

93.7% eclipse well-received locally

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With cereal boxes and shoe boxes aimed skyward, children and science enthusiasts of all ages peered into the heavens Monday for a rare glimpse of the sun being eclipsed by the moon.

Feb. 26, 1979, was the last time a total eclipse was visible within the 48 contiguous states of the United States. Not since 1919 has an eclipse crossed both East and West coasts. Yesterday’s event, called “The Great American Eclipse” by some, according to AccuWeather, because it’s entire path was within the United States, was the first time that had happened since before the United States became a country in 1776, according to Reuters.

Reuters predicted $694 million dollars in lost productivity as workers took time off to view the celestial spectacle. All across Mount Airy, where the eclipse was 93.76 percent total, parking lots, sidewalks and open spaces contained people doing exactly that.

Mount Airy Museum of Regional History was the center of local activity with 70 to 75 people of all ages showing up for an eclipse viewing event at the museum with many of them arriving exactly at 1 p.m. when the event began, and more than an hour and a half before the eclipse would reach its peak.

“You’d think we were giving out gold from the sky,” said Karen Nealis, administrative assistant, of the deluge of attendees.

Participants’ time was well-spent building viewing boxes up on the third floor before moving down to the museum’s courtyard to view the eclipse. Some people used eclipse glasses made for the occasion but plenty of others went DIY and converted cereal boxes, shoe boxes and small shipping boxes into viewing apparatuses to get a view of the eclipse without burning out their retinas.

James Caudill, 10, of Mount Airy, got the best results of anyone from a year-old recycled science project that he brought out for the occasion. His mom, Jennie Lowry, said “To be honest, when he made it, we didn’t know anything about the eclipse coming up.” She was pleasantly surprised James was able to find it. James’ project was a large box with one open side and the eclipse was easy to follow just by looking into the box.

Other folks were not having such an easy time of it. “You kind of have to wiggle it around and get a little bit of light,” advised Sonya Laney, director of education for the museum, as she assisted children who were not having as much luck as James.

“It was like so awesome,” said Emma Edwards, age 5, after getting a good look at the eclipse through her Raisins, Dates and Pecans cereal box.

Harrison Lee, 8, of King, came to the museum with his grandmother, Nancy Jo Goad, of Mount Airy. Harrison got a look at the eclipse and said, “It’s kind of like a little tiny crescent moon and a string.”

Aubrey Lowe, who admits to being 70-something, enjoys celestial events and often watches meteor showers with his daughter. They stand back to back outdoors in the open so that between the two of them, they can see the whole sky until one of them spots some action.

Yesterday’s eclipse was a little easier to find.”It’s going to get pretty shady,” Lowe said, as 2:40 p.m., the time of maximum eclipse, approached, “It’s amazing how our scientists figured out exactly when it was going to happen. I don’t know how they gathered all that information.”

“I’m glad people were so excited about the eclipse,” said Sonya Laney of the event’s large turnout. As the eclipse came and went, with the sky darkening and the temperature dropping, with young and old alike impressed with the eclipse, Laney confessed she was afraid things might not have gone so well.

“I’m not so sure why I thought nature was going to be disappointing,” she said.

There will be another total eclipse on April 8, 2024, but the path of totality will be a bit further away from Mount Airy. The museum has not yet announced plans for a viewing event.

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