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!

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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

History Talks series kicks off at Mount Airy Museum of Regional History

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A presentation that looks at local opposition to slavery during the 1800s will kick off another season of an ongoing educational program offered at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.  On Sunday at 2 p.m. the museum renews its spring season of History Talks, a program which brings historians and scholars from the surrounding area to Mount Airy to present and lead a discussion in their respective areas of expertise. Museum executive director Matt Edwards said Sunday will be a bit of a homecoming for the historian the museum will welcome. Douglas Porter Jr. is the downtown cultural resources director for the city of Raleigh, but is originally from Surry County. Porter earned his doctorate in history with an emphasis on the American South from the University of Mississippi, according to a statement regarding Sunday’s program. His primary interest, however, is the Surry County area during the 1800s.

Porter’s program, “Opposition to Slavery and Antislavery Efforts in the Surry County Area,” will focus on how people from Grayson County, Virginia, to Guilford County opposed slavery both actively and passively. In his statement, Porter notes the program “will explore this fascinating, yet virtually forgotten, piece of local and regional history.” Edwards said he believes the content of the talk should help the turnout on Sunday.

“There are always great crowds for our Civil War-themed programs,” explained Edwards. “It’s a theme which appeals to the local audience.” The talks usually attract a crowd of 20 to 30 people, added Edwards. The museum director said he has high hopes for Sunday’s program, as he believes weather may not play quite the role it has in past years in driving attendance. “The weather is always a question mark. People don’t want to spend the first nice day of the spring inside,” Edwards elaborated. “But we have had nice, pretty spring days all winter long.” While the first of the three programs included in the spring months is set for Sunday, Edwards noted he is still working to organize the next two. He would like to tie the second two talks to the museum’s visiting exhibit, Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs & Babies.

He said he is looking forward to seeing how those programs are received, as the dinosaur exhibit has been well received by the surrounding community. The events are free to the public and take place on the second floor of the museum.

Dinosaurs on display at museum

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Dinosaurs have returned at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.  The museum is playing host to a Tiny Titans: Dinosaurs Eggs & Babies exhibit until the end of May. It opened to the public on Saturday. “It went really well,” said museum executive director Matt Edwards, noting he did not have attendance numbers available. Edwards said Saturday the museum saw a much higher than normal turn-out, especially for the month of February. “A lot of folks came just for the exhibit.” added Edwards. “I’m pretty optimistic about this one.”

According to Edwards, the exhibit offers a rare opportunity for local residents to learn about dinosaurs. The nearest permanent dinosaur exhibits are located in Raleigh, Asheville and Martinsville, Virginia. Since the museum has a fairly small area in which it can play host to a traveling exhibit, dinosaur babies and eggs were a more realistic manner to display dinosaurs than full-size dinosaurs might have been. Edwards described the set-up process of the exhibit as a little tough, noting the museum was “a little tight on space.” However, he is pleased with the way it turned out. Edwards explained the exhibit tells the tale of dinosaurs through hands-on and visual displays. Children can dig in sand for fossils, read about dinosaurs or view renderings of baby dinosaurs.

The dinosaur displays tap into a new area for the museum. Edwards explained his organization will be placing more emphasis on the sciences, as the museum is a recent recipient of a $62,000 grant from the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. The grant was used to fund the Tiny Titans exhibit and a new education position at the museum. It will also fund a few more temporary exhibits, according to Edwards. Edwards said a grand opening for the exhibit, scheduled as a “mid-exhibit revival” will occur at some point in March. That “Dino-day” will include additional activities.

The dinosaur exhibit can be viewed during the museum’s regular operating hours, which are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for students. Children 4 years old and younger may enter for free. No additional fee is assessed to view the Tiny Titans displays.  The museum is located at 301 North Main St. in Mount Airy and may be reached at 786-4478.

Grant to fund exhibit, education position

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For about 165 million years dinosaurs walked the earth, and they’ll soon be making a return trip to Mount Airy. On Feb. 18 the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History will open a traveling exhibit called Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs & Babies. The exhibit will be on display through the end of May. Museum executive director Matt Edwards said he has worked with the contracted company before and knows that it offers a tremendous product.  The exhibit will offer hands-on components and displays, and Edwards hopes it will be a big hit, as the nearest museums which offer dinosaur exhibits are located in Raleigh, Asheville and Martinsville, Virginia.  Of course, the Mount Airy museum isn’t exactly ready to play host to a full-size tyrannosaurus rex, said Edwards.  “Our temporary exhibit space is fairly small,” said Edwards in explaining the exhibit will tell the story of dinosaurs by way of smaller baby dinosaurs and dinosaur eggs.  The exhibit even features a model of a baby triceratops on which people can sit for a photo opportunity. Edwards said he was lucky enough to schedule the exhibit between its showings at two other museums, allowing for some cost-savings.  According to Edwards, the baby dinosaur exhibit will tap into an area which is a little new for his organization — the sciences. That’s important since the funding for the exhibit will come by way of a natural sciences grant.  “It’s a huge grant for us,” said Edwards.

The museum recently received a $62,000 grant from the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, explained Edwards. It’s a one-year, renewable grant which is contingent on continued funding from the legislature. The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences handed out $2.3 million in such grants statewide, with emphasis going to museums which receive little or no state funding and operate in under-served communities.  One condition of the grant is that money be put toward the sciences, said Edwards. However, the grant is enough money to fund a number of exhibits, offer some general operating dollars and allow the museum to reinstate a position it has operated without since 2010.

Education director

Edwards said one area in which the museum has failed to make headway in recent years is the continued development of education programs. In 2010, “circumstances following the recession” made it necessary for the museum to trim its staff. One position cut was the education position.  With the new funding, Edwards is getting ready to post the position, which was included in the museum’s grant application.  Though current museum staff members have kept the education programs at the museum running throughout the past six years, Edwards said the museum has done “nothing extensive in new program development.” Participation in the programs from local schools is also not as extensive as it once was.  Edwards said one task for the new staff member will be to find ways to link the history lessons the museum offers with the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum schools are now using.  “This position will offer a tremendous opportunity to reconnect with the education community and the community as a whole,” noted Edwards.  Edwards explained the first task for the education director will be a complete overhaul of the museum’s education programs. Some successful portions of the programs will remain in place, while the museum may end others. New programs will be offered eventually.  The person will also lead a teachers advisory committee, comprised of volunteer teachers, to ensure the museum is offering programs which are helpful to local schools and that the programs align with the curriculum taught to local youngsters.

Edwards said he’s looking forward to the dinosaur exhibit, a revamping of the education program and other exciting opportunities which the new grant will help to fund.

Genealogy Swap Meet Draws a Crowd

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A genealogy swap meet this weekend helped many folks progress with their family histories.  “We’re making a small dent,” said Elder Billie King, of Mount Airy. Hosted by the Surry County Genealogical Association, the event was held Saturday at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.  King brought information about several of her family members who had worked at the North Carolina Granite Corp.  “They helped make and mold that rock,” she said.The granite quarry, a cornerstone of local history, served as a focal point for the third-annual swap meet.

Anyone with any family ties to the quarry was asked to attend as a special guest. “You can see a name of a person on a census record and see they worked there,” said Esther Johnson, president of the local association and event organizer. “This puts a face with those people.” At the swap meet, vendors set up booths with genealogical information to share from their own family trees as well as items such as books or maps. When working on genealogy, “You always have dead ends,” Johnson said. “Places like this might have all that information you’re fighting for.”

By about noon, the crowd had started to pick up at the meet on the museum’s third floor. Sandy Ayers and her son, Matthew Holder, of Reidsville, spent some time at the Patrick County Historical Society’s table, where she was provided with information about joining the Daughters of the American Revolution. “Tracing my family tree I discovered a great-grandfather that was in the Revolutionary War,” she said. “I’m trying to connect the roots.” Ayers said that the swap meet Saturday was her sixth and that she enjoys genealogy. “I know I enjoy it,” Holder added. “I enjoy helping my mom.” Jancie Poplin, of Mount Airy, sat at a table with Mary McGhee, of Pilot Mountian. Poplin sat out a list of last names on a placard in front of a computer. “I’m offering help if anybody has these last names in their family,” she said. Because those names appeared in her own family tree, it might help somebody find new information about their own. “I’ve had several people stop by,” she said. “I’ve got notes I’m going to follow up with later.” Poplin said she’s been involved with the Surry Genealogical Association since about 2010. “I love this,” she said. “This is my number one hobby and pastime.” Swap meets provide the opportunity for fellowship, she said, and to interact with those who share the same interest – some of whom may turn out to be family. “I’m hoping to find long-lost relatives,” Poplin said. “A lot of my family members are dying out. This gives me hope I can reconnect and make new friends.”

In a different area, Winnie Banner, of Mount Airy, had embarked on a similar mission. “I’m the only one left in my family,” she said. “I’m trying to find out about my grandfather. He used to work at the quarry years ago and I didn’t know too much about him.” Banner worked with Cheryl Mosely, a member of the genealogical association, to find some new information. Mosely was stationed at a table set up with computers connected to, where those experienced with the program could help those just starting. They discovered a couple of interesting tidbits, including that Banner’s grandfather’s mother had been named “Pokey.” Mosely noted that the Surry County Genealogical Association’s website has been recently revamped. “We’ve totally redone it so it’s easily accessible now,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of information on there,” that may be of use to those researching in Surry County.

A six-week introductory genealogy course, also led by the genealogical association, will kickoff at the museum next week. “We love doing events like this,” said museum director Matthew Edwards. “Part of our big picture mission is to collect and preserve local history. Events like this really help us achieve that goal on an institutional level but also for individuals and families.” History and genealogy are intertwined and can’t be separated, Edwards noted. “I guess they can be,” he said, “but then it’s just names.”

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