Museum abounds with treasures

First Posted: 11/17/2009

History was never a favorite subject of mine in school, at least until I reached college.
Remembering dates and explorers and treaties and wars, none of those seemed to come very easy. I learned to hate history.
But despite hating history as a subject and class, I always enjoyed being able to go visit places that were significant in history and social studies like Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Washington, D.C., Raleigh, Town Creek Indian Mounds, Tryon Palace, and one of my absolute favorite places to date, Charleston, S.C.
Right here in Mount Airy, there is a place that tells the history of Surry County, as well as how events like the Industrial Revolution impacted this area.
People can find out how the Native Americans of this area lived and thrived, complete with a model home for the Native Americans.
The room of a cabin sits in the corner of one area, showing visitors how people made their own fabric and cooked over a fire. The general store is even featured.
There is a train exhibit, and in another area, Mount Airys early fire trucks are on display and kids can even slide down a fire pole. A bit of information on each of the regions fire departments is provided.
On another level, visitors learn about local native Donna Fargo, the Siamese twins Eng and Chang Bunker and other historical figures and events.
Now, the third floor of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is a place for visitors to wander to see old early-model cars, which were lifted by crane and set into the building through the windows.
Pictures fill the space that focuses on the community, and information can be learned about textiles, tobacco, agriculture and the growing wine industry.
But one of my favorite places is the Childrens Gallery.
Yes, I know, Im far beyond the age of a child, but that didnt stop some of the adult visitors to a special preview of the third floor Friday night from having fun in the gallery.
There is a kids-sized set of Lincoln logs that are light as a feather, so that kids or adults can take the logs and build a cabin. There are animal skins that kids can look at to see up close what animals are in the area. An area fenced like a barnyard features farm animal puppets and other items.
A doll house has been built for visitors to play in and there are even dresses and hats like Southern belles used to wear for girls to dress up in.
I happened to greatly enjoy the thousands of model cars in glass cases that line the walls of the gallery. There are cars, trucks, new and old, two or three rows to a shelf, four or fix or six shelves high full of model cars.
So there is something to do for everyone who visits the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
The cost to get in is minimal, in my opinion, with adults costing $4, seniors $3, students $2. Those who wish to get a membership to the museum get unlimited visits to the facility as well as advance notice of programs and special events, which are held frequently.
The people in Surry County who have cared enough about our future to preserve our history should be commended. The museum is a beautiful building full of treasures. Those who have never had the opportunity or taken the time to visit, really should.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the associate editor of The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1923.

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