Museum of Durham History, at 500 W. Main Street between Downtown Durham and Brightleaf Square, is free to visit, and reopened to the public on April 16th, 2021.
It’s a young and growing museum, and you’ll also find exhibits throughout the community.
It’s open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Read on learn about the newest exhibit, From Tobacco Market to Innovation Hub: Durham’s Central Park Neighborhood, as well as the other exhibits at the museum. Also, learn about some free upcoming events.
Events with Museum of Durham History
Royal Ice Cream Sit-In Dedication Ceremony
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021
Honor the legacy of the brave participants in the Royal Ice Cream Sit-in. Sit-in participants will be very special guests to share their stories. On the 64th anniversary of the sit-in that sought the integration for African American customers, MoDH will dedicate its recently installed Royal Ice Cream sign, generously sponsored by board member Alice Sharpe in honor of her parents.
“The Rise and Fall of Liberty” Screening
Friday, June 25th, 2021
Durham Central Park, 501 Foster Street, Durham
Join the Museum of Durham History and Durham Central Park on Friday, on the lawn of Durham Central Park for a special screening of The Rise and Fall of Liberty. This documentary, produced by Carol Thompson, examines the ebb and flow of Liberty Warehouse’s 80-year lifespan, draws parallels with the evolution of downtown Durham, and reveals the often touching, interdependent relationship between the two. It also raises key questions about the tension between the drive for progress and the character of the city. Thompson will kick off the screening with remarks. Please bring your own chair or blanket, and practice appropriate social distancing.
Exhibits at Museum of Durham History
From Tobacco Market to Innovation Hub: Durham’s Central Park
This exhibit will explore the change of the Central Park neighborhood’s landscape from rural farmland to reclaimed community space. Today, the area referred to as the “Central Park Neighborhood” and the “Innovation District” boasts a thriving retail and nightlife scene as well as luxury residential buildings and renowned corporations.
Over the last 150 years, the neighborhood has been a historical microcosm of the rise and fall of tobacco in Durham and the city’s modernization with industry and innovation. The stories of long-time family business owners, newcomers, and community leaders will highlight how these changes affected the tight-knit neighborhood throughout the 20th century and how they worked together to control how spaces have been revitalized and beneficial to residents.
Votes for Suffrage: 100 Years of Women inn Durham Politics
2020 marked the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women in the United States the right to vote. This exhibit explores the legacy of the amendment and how women’s political participation has helped shape Durham. Though the suffrage movement sought equality for women and the 19th Amendment was meant to enforce it, race and class continued to be barriers to enfranchisement for many of Durham’s female citizens throughout the last century. The exhibit will examine those challenges and highlight the stories of the women who fought to positively change Durham. From key ‘firsts’ in office like Durham’s first female judge, to influencing social and environmental policy, and to confronting generations of racial inequalities while supporting a revitalized community.
Kids’ Area Featuring Durham A-Z
“Durham A-Z” is returning to MoDH as a kid-focused series! Our latest installment “L is for Lemur” explores the history and mission of the Duke Lemur Center. The series will be featured in the Museum’s redesigned Kids Area. New Durham themed toys and costumes are available as well as a green screen photo booth with historic images of Durham. Kids of all ages and the young at heart are welcome!
Durham Beginnings | 1865-1885
An exhibit featuring five dramatic but little-known personal stories evoking the spirit of Durham’s formative years. Learn the “coming to Durham” stories of Eliza Bennet Duke, Richard Fitzgerald, Abner Jordan, John Green, and Margaret Faucette.
Explore Durham Through Time
Visitors can use a touchscreen to explore key moments in Durham’s past. A post-it note wall allows viewers to tell us what moments from Durham’s past are most important to them. They may see their feedback incorporated later with a photo and caption.
Look Beyond the Windows
Take in the museum’s almost-360-degree view of downtown and consider the changes over time. To begin, we’ll focus on the Hill Building, Arts Council (formerly City Hall and Central High School), Liggett and Myers buildings, and NC Mutual tower.
Visitors can step into the Story Room to record a personal memory about Durham’s past. They can also explore memories others have shared or browse through old, local yearbooks. Stories recorded in the Story Room will be archived by the Durham County Library.