I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.


NC Museum of History - Part 2 of Story of NC Exhibit - Raleigh


To see my blog on Part 1 of the Exhibit click here.

       The second part of the exhibit opens with a very fun map of NC with buttons that activate wooden toy representations of different regional contributions to NC history, like the running train that represents the opening of the Wilmington Weldon Railroad. The exhibit then paints in broad strokes from slavery to secession to the Civil War to Reconstruction to WWI and WWII. There is a video stop in the secession area and in the Reconstruction portion is a KKK headdress and a video explaining the Wilmington race riot of 1898. In the WWI area your child can have their picture taken as the face of a doughboy soldier.

The map 

      Stops along the way describe significant elements in NC history like tobacco production, the emergence of textile mills, and the development of Black Wall Street in Durham. My preschooler paid close attention when we told her that at her age she would have been working in a mill already. She asked the ever important question: "how would I go to the bathroom?" When we read a placard to her that described the communal outdoor bathrooms for workers she emphatically proclaimed, "Everybody would see your panties and your butt! Everybody!"

A textile mill interior cleverly set up with mirrors.
         In the slavery section the Museum has reconstructed a slave cabin that they supposedly removed from its location and reassembled. Based on the quality of building materials and the architecture, not to mention the number of furnishings inside, I have a hard time believing this was an authentic slave cabin. It looks like it post dates the slavery period. It could have been a sharecropper's cabin or perhaps the owner of these slaves was a rare exception who set his property up in nicer accommodations, but the cabin certainly does not represent the majority of slave dwellings that I have seen. Even the slave cabins of Stagville in Durham, while on the nicer side with their wood floors, are nothing compared to the "luxury"of this re-created cabin at the Museum.

A cutout view into the nicest slave cabin I've ever seen.
        After WWII, the exhibit has very little to say about modern NC. I was surprised to see no mention of Andy Griffith's NC connection and his contribution to early television - there was actually no display on the emergence of TV. Likewise, no displays chronicled the Vietnam War and Fort Bragg's role as a major training facility for that War. It's like the curator ran out of energy or physical space to bring the exhibit into more recent history.

     This second part of the exhibit is obviously the most ambitious portion but it's also less interactive. There is a great deal more text to digest in this second installment and not enough video segments to occupy the kids while you try to read up. There are much fewer hands-on items in this second part than there was in the first. My preschooler was engaged but we had a heck of a time keeping my toddler reined in. He might be a great candidate for one of those kid leashes I never thought I would consider.

1 comment: