Durham's spirit, history and culture on display at Museum of Durham History

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Saturday, November 2, 2019
Museum showcases Durham's spirit, history, culture
A former railroad and bus depot in the heart of the 'City of Medicine' is home to the Museum of Durham History.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A former railroad and bus depot in the heart of the 'City of Medicine' is home to the Museum of Durham History.

Since 2013, this small building on West Main Street highlights some of Durham's unique past and present.

"There's a lot more to Durham than just tobacco and Duke," Patrick Mucklow said. The museum's executive director and curator wants to show you everything in-between.

Mucklow and staff take visitors through a visual timeline of Durham's diverse culture and history over the last 150 years.

Exhibits include the design of the iconic CCB tower-now 21C Museum Hotel--and historic images at the museum show the rise of Durham's black wealth and businesses.

Remnants of that era are within walking distance and visible right outside the museum's windows.

"Since the NC Mutual building is over there-it's a very unique building in its own right. We chose to look at the history of NC Mutual and Black Wall Street, which was over on Parrish Street," Mucklow said.

The Museum of Durham History also features a kid's space called the 'A to Z exhibit'.

This is where children can engage in the city's history with each letter of the alphabet.

"We decided to do 'A' for Ann Atwater because of the movie 'Best of Enemies' that just came out. So we decided to tell that story of Ann Atwater and CP Ellis and how they changed Durham and school integration," Mucklow said.

"The exhibit called Nuevo Espiritu De Durham is about Durham's Latin community. This exhibit really speaks to the museum's heart and mission, which are to tell stories that are not often told," Mucklow said.

Including yours. The exhibit allows visitors to interact with technology---sharing their connection to Durham.

Guests record their responses to a series of questions.

"It's important for us to engage our citizens, our visitors, transplants in a way that they know they are a part of the fabric of this community. They helped to write the history and tell the story every day," said Kimberle Walker, a board member for the museum.

Approximately 15,000 people visit the Museum of Durham History every year.

As the city grows, managers anticipate the museum outgrowing the current space. Through its nonprofit, 'Vision Project of Durham 150', they hope to raise funds to expand, solidifying a permanent home to showoff more of Durham's spirit, history and culture for generations to come.