the wonderful world of veena.

05 September 2014

veen on the road: the new winston museum.

During my time in Winston-Salem, I used airbnb to book a room in Lauren and Sam's house. Sam was unfortunately out of town for most of the time that I was there, but Lauren and I spent quite a lot of time hanging out and chatting about various things. In addition to discovering that we have some mutual friends, we also learned about each other's love of history. I was a history major in undergrad, and Lauren is currently a middle school history teacher in Winston-Salem, and when I mentioned that I would be visiting both Reynolda House as well as Old Salem, she noted that I could round out my time in the city with a tour of the New Winston Museum as well.

I had not previously heard of the Museum but was intrigued, particularly after visiting the first two and wanting to learn more about the histories of Winston and Salem and how they came to be one entity. According to Lauren, a stop at the New Winston Museum would provide answers to all of my questions. And boy was she right.

[the interior of the new winston museum. sadly the only photograph i thought to take]
The New Winston Museum is set up to provide visitors with as much or as little history as they would like to learn about the two towns that eventually grew into one. Through collections of photographs and oral histories - as well as employees who are fountains of knowledge - the Museum takes you through the years of both Winston and Salem until they eventually merged into one when the railroad came to town [note: Salem had most of the money, but the railroad could only be diverted into Winston, so they merged]. You learn about the tobacco trade in town, the founding of what would eventually become Wachovia Bank, and the history of race relations in the two cities.

Although the space is small [and temporary. they're hoping to move to a larger space soon], it's very well utilized. Three of the walls feature photographs taking you through the cities, right from their founding straight up to the modern day. In those photos you can get a glimpse of what day-to-day life was like and how it has progressed over the years and use the accompanying booklet to learn details about the photograph and its subject. Included on each of the walls is also a television screen; each screen shows a different video on a loop of people recounting their memories - or family memories - of living and growing up in Winston-Salem over the years. I could see it being overwhelming if the museum were busy, but since I was the only person in there for the majority of my visit, I was given the remote and allowed to control the volume on each of the screens as I walked around the room [two thumbs up for that!]. Benches are provided in front of each of the screens to encourage visitors to spend time listening to each video.

The fourth wall and the center of the room are used to display a rotating exhibit. Lauren told me that when she was there it was about Winston-Salem's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, and when I visited it had recently changed over to the role the cities played during the Civil War. It was very interesting to see, and I liked that there was a temporary exhibit in addition to the permanent one.

Some details:
  • Located at 713 Marshall St S, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
  • Open Monday-Friday 12-5pm; Saturday 10am-2pm. Closed on Sunday
  • My favourite bit: admission is FREE. donations are accepted, and I strongly encourage you to make one - however large or small - should you pay the museum a visit
  • The Museum hosts a number of events throughout the year that would be quite interesting to attend. check the calendar on their website to see if you can make it to one.
After spending time at two of Winston-Salem's most historical sites, visiting the New Winston Museum was a great way to tie together all I had learned during my time in the city.

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