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The Museum is open from 10am - 5pm Monday through Saturday, Sunday 1-4pm

Changing Exhibits

I've Endured: Women in Old-Time Music  May 17 - August 17 2024 

Upcoming Events

Thu Jun 13 @ 9:00am - 01:00pm
Imagineering Camp for ages 6-9
Fri Jun 14 @ 8:00pm - 09:30pm
Historic Downtown Mount Airy Ghost Tours
Wed Jun 19 @ 4:00pm - 07:00pm
Juneteenth Celebration

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

Museum Receives Award for Geocache Program

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The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History was honored at the North Carolina Museum Council’s annual conference with the Award of Excellence for the “Geocaching for History” program.  Executive Director of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History Matt Edwards said the award was a “reinforcement of the belief that museums should be active and vibrant community partners.”  “That is something we have really been working toward at the museum, and this project is a great example,” Edwards added. “The museum staff, Amy Snyder in particular, have been working very hard on this project over the course of the last 18 months or so. For their hard work and our institution’s efforts to be recognized by a group of peers is a tremendous honor, and we hope it speaks well of the work we are doing and the work we want to continue to do in moving forward.”

The “Geocaching for History” was launched last year when the museum partnered with Mount Airy Parks and Recreation and the Kids in Parks for what Edwards described as a national pilot program. Funding for the program came from Kids in Parks, as well as additional funding from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, for purchase of the GPS Units. The North Carolina Humanities Council provided implementation money, which Edwards said allowed “broad regional implementation” for the geocache program.

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunting activity using GPS-enabled devices. The GPS units are available for rent for $5 each from the museum as well as Reeves Community Center. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the cache hidden at that location.  Edwards said there are 22 geocaching sites around the region that were researched by the museum, with caches designed and placed in each location, as well as a corresponding online exhibit. Each site can be discovered by participants and if they have a smart phone with a QR code reader, they are able to see additional interpretive material about the site, including history about the location and sometimes corresponding video and photos.  “This is a great way for us to teach local history where it happened, not just within the four walls of the museum,” Edwards shared.

Edwards invited anyone who wanted to participate to visit the museum or Reeves Community Center to rent the GPS units. The $5 rental fee per GPS unit, per day, will go into a pool of money that will be used to upgrade the program. All GPS units come loaded with the 22 cache sites, and the units will give varying degrees of directions to locate the sites. Seven of the sites are located on the Emily B. Taylor and Ararat River Greenway Trails.  Participants select which cache they want to search for, then follow the directions on the screen, which will lead to the approximate coordinates, then an audible chime will let them know when they are close and clues are available to assist with the treasure hunt of sorts. “The treasure you are seeking is knowledge,” Edwards added.  Caches range in size from small, about the size of a double-A battery, to larger caches the size of a two-quart water bottle. In addition to the museum’s GPS caches, there are about six to ten other locations within walking distance of the downtown area, Edwards shared.

The activity is great for families, visitors, school groups, scout troop, and anyone who wants to be outdoors and in nature, as well as those who have an interest in local history. Edwards shared that the museum is in the process of developing materials and activities for classroom use of the GPS units.  The award, one of three given out to North Carolina museums, were designed to recognize, encourage, and promote excellence within activities of the museum community and organizations in related fields of interest. The awards are focused on programs, projects, and services offered by museums.

For more information about the GPS program and rental of the units, contact the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History at 786-4478.

Museum hosts Batik Easter Egg workshops

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The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History will host the popular Easter Egg Workshop on Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m. A second class will be held on April 5 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The classes filled up quickly last year, so Matthew Edwards, museum director, encouraged everyone to sign up as soon as possible. Call to reserve a spot in the workshop by Friday for this Saturday’s class, or by April 4 for the April 5 class.  The workshop is for age 12 through adults, and will be held in the museum’s second floor classroom. Class size is limited to 15 participants. The cost is $10 for museum members and $15 for non-members, which will include supplies. Also, $20 take-home kits are available for participants; kits muse be ordered at the time of registration.

The Ukrainian tradition of decorating eggs with wax is called pysanky, and dates back to 1300 BC. The ancient practice uses traditional motifs that date back even further, to 3000 BC, and many examples were provided for the students in last year’s workshops by the class instructor, Maria Skaskiw.  Skaskiw told last year’s workshop participants that she learned the art of decorating the eggs as a child, growing up in a Ukranian community in New York.

“I was fascinated by it and the history — it goes back thousands of years. There are variations on the motifs, endless variations. I also love the legends behind the art form. My favorite legend says that as long as people keep writing the Easter eggs, evil will not triumph in this world,” said Skaskiw.  The students used a kistka, which is the tool used to “paint” the beeswax onto the surface of the eggs. The tool is heated by a candle flame, then dipped in beeswax. The wax is mixed with black soot, so those painting the eggs can see the designs easily on the eggshell.

Skaskiw guided the students through the process, and encouraged them with a reminder that they must “keep a long, steady stroke” when applying the wax, so it will not pool or drip. “The trick is keeping the kistka hot and going straight to the egg when you dip it in the wax.”  After the egg was painted with beeswax, it was dipped into the first dye. Then, the beeswax is applied on top, preserving the color for later. This process is repeated over and over, until the design is complete. Skaskiw told the students they could make the designs as complicated or as simple as they wanted.

“In the end, the wax may be covering the egg, making it black in color, but then you remove the wax and it is like, ahhhh, it looks beautiful!”

Museum offers geneology class for beginners

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The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History will once again offer a beginner genealogy course beginning Feb 11. This course, taught by local genealogist and president of the Surry County Genealogy Association Esther Johnson.

“This course is designed to be for someone who is just beginning to research their family tree,” said Museum Curator of Collections Amy Snyder. “Esther (Johnson) will take them step by step how to begin to look their history up.”

She said the classes will be held on Feb. 11, 18, 25 and March 4 and 11. The first two classes will be held in the Museum’s 2nd floor Classroom from 6 - 8 pm. The third class on February 25 will be held at the Surry County Register of Deeds Office in Dobson from 6 - 8pm and the fourth class on March 4 will be held at The Carlos Surratt Genealogy Room at Surry Community College in Dobson from 6-8pm.

“The Surry County Register of Deeds office has been so good to help us with our classes,” Snyder said. “It’s so well organized and they are happy to show people how to use the office to get information from birth and death records and deeds. Most of their records are very well preserved. They can help participants really learn how to do the research.

Snyder said the class has remained popular with anywhere from 12 to 20 participants yearly. She said the Surratt Genealogy Room also has may church records and books which can help researchers.

“I think interest in genealogy has been an ongoing thing, especially with a lot of television commercials talking about finding you roots,” said Snyder. “It’s been a big thing for a while. Many, once they retire and have some time are interested in finding out about ancestors they wish they had met.”

She said the final class on March 11 will be back at the museum classroom from 6 - 8 p.m. Museum members are admitted free and there is a fee of $5 per class (or $25 for the course) for non-members. Annual memberships can be purchased for $25 (senior or student) or $40 (individual).

Snyder said laptops are welcome and there will be wireless Internet access but having a laptop computer is not necessary. She said there is a limit 25 students so participants are encouraged to register in advance. Interested persons may obtain additional information, or register, by calling Snyder at 336-786-4478, ext. 227 or

Wayne Henderson headlines museum’s music and dining event

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Continuing Mount Airy Museum of Regional History’s celebration of local music and culture, in conjunction with their luthier exhibit, the museum will host an evening of entertainment by Wayne Henderson and friends, paired with a dining experience catered by Old North State Winery.

The event will take place on the museum’s third floor, which museum Director Matthew Edwards said would offer a “unique, small venue opportunity to see one of the living masters of the flat top guitar live and in person.” Seating is “extremely limited” with only 70 seats available.

Edwards said dinner will feature a starter of a Caesar salad, followed by a choice of herb-crusted filet mignon or stuffed airline chicken breast. The chicken breast will be seasoned with garlic and herbs, and stuffed with caramelized onion, apple cider bacon, spinach, and goat cheese, with a mustard cream sauce. The choice of entree is paired with grilled asparagus, grilled summer vegetables, garlic and herb roasted new potatoes; followed by homemade pie for dessert. The meal includes a glass of wine with dinner and a cash bar.

Edwards said the music and dinner event is part of a series of programming inspired by the luthier exhibit, “Luthier’s Craft: Instrument Making Traditions of the Blue Ridge.” It is also a “perfect venue” for Wayne Henderson to make the formal presentation of the guitar he created for the luthier exhibit, which was created to be a traveling exhibit, one that will begin its journey after February, when it heads to the Earl Scruggs center in Shelby. The Wayne Henderson guitar featured in the museum’s luthier exhibit right now is one on loan, Edwards said, to give time for Henderson to “work his magic.”

“Getting a Henderson-built guitar is not a fast process, but that is the beauty of his craft,” Edwards shared. “We were fortunate to have the guitar in the exhibit on loan, until Wayne finished construction on the guitar that will travel with this luthier exhibit as it moves forward.”

“This is a great opportunity for supporters of the museum to hear the guitar in use by the man who created it, before it makes its transition into the museum’s exhibit,” Edwards said.

The event will also provide “much-needed funds” for the regional museum, Edwards said, during winter months when the museum may go for a few days at a time without many visitors. Edwards shared that museum visitation is typically down in the winter season, but they still have to maintain the building to “preserve archival standards and continue to pay year-round expenses,” such as the power bill and staffing costs. “This is a great way to combine programming with the luthier exhibit, along with a way to produce a revenue stream to hopefully help us get through the winter doldrums.”

In addition, the event allows the museum to partner with local wineries and restaurants, in order to promote local businesses.

“Music, wine, and culture — it’s a great pairing.”

Wayne Henderson is a musician and guitar maker, also known as a luthier, who is featured as part of the museum’s exhibit of regional instrument makers. He specializes in creating custom-made acoustic guitars, and is based in Grayson County, Va. He also builds mandolins.

Henderson’s guitars are made by hand and he creates around 20 per year. He was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship presented by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1995, and is known for building a guitar for Eric Clapton, a process that was outlined in a book entitled “Clapton’s Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument” by Allen St. John. Henderson has built guitars for musicians such as Doc Watson, John Cephas, and Gillian Welch. The Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition was established in 1995 and a portion of the proceeds are placed into a scholarship for young musicians.

“Wayne is very personable, and full of great stories. He’s an easygoing, really interesting guy and that’s important when you have someone with the renown that he has. The music will be excellent and it will be performed alongside the stories he tells,” Edwards shared.

An Evening with Wayne Henderson and Friends will be held on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event are $100 each, which includes the meal, a glass of wine, and entertainment. Proceeds will be used to support the museum during the slower winter months. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 786-4478.

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