Mount Airy News

Painting workshop on tap at museum

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The last session of a series of art workshops is set to take place at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History on Saturday.  Museum executive director Matt Edwards said the museum’s fifth and final spring art workshop will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The session is expected to be complete at 4 p.m.

Edwards said local artist Candice Martin will lead a painting workshop. She will walk participants through the entire process of painting an acrylic farm scene, from sketch to completion. Each person who takes part in the workshop will walk away with her own 11 inch by 14 inch canvas.  Edwards said Saturday’s program will end a months-long program funded by a Surry Arts Council sub-grant. In January and February, five local artists displayed their work at the museum.  Each of the artists chose a piece from the museum’s collection as their inspiration, explained Edwards. The art was then displayed next to the piece. Many chose pieces which aren’t normally on display at the museum, which allowed Edwards and his staff the opportunity to show off portions of the collection which might otherwise have remained in storage.

For the opportunity to display their work, artists agreed to lead a workshop in their field, with proceeds from that workshop going to help fund the operations at the museum.  The series kicked off in March with a blacksmith workshop. Edwards said the program was a success in its pilot year, and he hopes to expand upon the art program in years to come.

Though advance registration for Saturday’s class is not required, Edwards said he would encourage those interested to reserve a slot, as seats in the workshop are limited. The cost to participate in the program is $25 for museum members and $30 for non-members.  Interested persons may call the museum at 786-4478 for more information or to register for the event.

Weekend of events planned at museum

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There’s plenty to do this weekend at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.

On Saturday, the museum will play host to a stained glass workshop, and on Sunday, History Talks will continue with a presentation by a paleontologist.

Gwen Jolley’s stained glass work is always on display at the Mayberry Antique Mall, said museum executive director Matt Edwards, and earlier in the year it was on display at the museum as part of an arts show the museum hosted.

“She’s a remarkable stained glass worker,” noted Edwards.

On Saturday Jolley will host a workshop. Those who participate will have the opportunity to make a piece to take home at the end of the day.

“It’s generally pretty fun,” said Edwards, who noted he has done some stained glass work in the past.

The cost to take part in the workshop, which runs from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, is $25 for museum members and $30 for non-members. Edwards said advance registration is not required. However, space is limited, so interested parties are encouraged to reserve a space.

Edwards said anyone interested may call the museum at 786-4478.

History Talks

The museum hosts its History Talks series of events every fall and spring. It includes three presentations throughout each season by historians or other scholars in that individual’s area of expertise.

Edwards said Sunday’s talk will highlight the traveling exhibit, Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies, which has been on display at the museum since February.

Dr. Alex Hastings, who is the assistant curator of paleontology at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, will begin his presentation at 2 p.m. on Sunday on the third floor of the museum.

Edwards said Hastings is a vertebrate paleontologist who did a great deal of work on the titanoboa, a prehistoric snake which stretched 40 feet long. The paleontologist will be speaking about current field research.

Hastings’ biography notes his dissertation work at the University of Florida focused on adaptability in a group of crocodilians that survived the mass extinction which ended the age of the dinosaurs.

“He will be talking about digs — the adventurous side of things,” explained Edwards. “It will be a great event for folks with kids who might be interested in paleontology.”

Sunday’s program is free and open to the public.

Aaron Blackwelder pottery workshop set for Saturday at Mount Airy Museum of Regional History

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The next session in a series of workshops at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History will feature the art of pottery, while another museum program, set for Sunday, has been canceled.  On Saturday the museum will host a pottery workshop at 1 p.m.  The event is part of an ongoing series of programs at the museum. In February and March the museum hosted an arts show. In exchange for having their work on display, the artists and craft makers who took part in the show are hosting sessions with the public.  A blacksmith workshop and a bead embroidery workshop have already been held as part of the series of events, and stained glass and painting workshops will follow this.  Museum Executive Director Matt Edwards said the four-hour workshop will be led by Aaron Blackwelder from Elkin. Participants will use basket-weave pottery skills to make a pot.  “It’s a great chance to get your hands dirty and have some fun,” added Edwards. Participants will have the opportunity to make their pot, and Blackwelder will fire the pottery at his workshop. Those who take part in the workshop will then be able to pick their pot up at the museum.  The fee to take part in the workshop is $25 for museum members and $30 for non-members. The class is limited to 12 participants. Thus, Edwards said advance registration for the event is strongly encouraged.  Those interested in participating may call the museum at 786-4478 to reserve their spot.

Edwards also said the monthly History Talks program which was scheduled for Sunday has been cancelled.  History Talks is a series of programs in which the museum brings in historians from the region to speak about their areas of expertise. The events are held in the spring and fall.  Edwards said Sunday’s event was scheduled to be the second of three talks in the spring. However, museum staff were unable to find a speaker without scheduling conflicts.  That stated, Edwards noted History Talks will be back in May. On May 7, a paleontologist from the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, Virginia, will speak as part of the series.

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.

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