Andy Griffith Museum set to open for Mayberry Days

First Posted: 9/20/2009

After years of intensive planning, the reality of the Andy Griffith Museum opening is right around the corner. Set to open during Mayberry Days this year, the ribbon cutting will be held Saturday at 10:45 p.m.
The museum will contain the largest collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia, mostly donated by Mount Airy native and friend of Griffiths Emmett Forrest.
This will certainly be the most exciting Mayberry Days because of the Andy Griffith Museum. It represents years of working towards this. I think that when we get the museum open, the community is going to be really proud that we have a new, quality venue for folks seeking a Mayberry experience, said Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council.
A company out of Nashville, Tenn., 1220 Exhibits, working with BlackOrchid Design, came to Mount Airy a couple of months ago and is working with the arts council on a rendering of what it could be, with funds.
What we will do is use this rendering and the projected budget to seek additional funding for the museum, Jones said.
Jones said the rendering will be on display at the museum following the ribbon cutting. A representative from 1220 Exhibits is flying in from Nashville to be a part of the ribbon cutting.
Jones said the arts council has been fortunate for the many services that have been donated to the museum. For example, the design of how the museum could look with additional funding was done with very little funding. Jones found an interior designer, Neil Fine out of Winston-Salem, who has volunteered his time to help with the museum.
Neil has offered to come up and hang the entire museum. That is a huge gift, Jones said.
Steve Talley of Talleys Custom Frame and Gallery has also offered his time for the hanging of the artwork in the museum, which will be happening this week.
The expertise with the folks at 1220, combined with their communication with Jim Clark (head of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club), has given us a plan for the museum, as far as a way to hang things a logic to basic it on.
Jones said theater volunteers have also been helping to see the project through.
Mike Johnson, who has designed this years Mayberry Days T-shirt, drew on a piece of old set and one of our volunteers is painting it for us. We are creating a display out of old set pieces the same way we create a set spending no money, thanks to these theater volunteers, Denny Shelton and Cari Robertson. Its really an incredible combination of really talented people who are donating their time and energy to make it as good as it can be.
Jones said part of the funding that came from the N.C. Rural Center for Economic Development to build the museum requires the arts council to create jobs.
We have created jobs for the past seven or eight months, certainly for those who are working for the contractor and sub-contractor for the jobs. But, we have also hired a part-time staff of five people including Margaret Griffin, Elaina Wingfield, Mike Johnson, Cindy Bowman, Laura Hayworth and Steven Woods. We just have this incredible skill set in there even though we couldnt afford to hire anyone of those people full-time. Its a win for them, and its a win for us, Jones said.
Money for the landscaping was raised by the showing of Andy Griffiths new movie called Play the Game, which debuted in the Downtown Cinema to a packed house.
The landscaping is making an enormous difference. It simply shows the value of a donation by Chip Calloway and the execution by Michella Huff. Its an incredible combination and the space around the museum has been transformed, Jones said.
The largest outside contributor of non-monetary donations to the project came from North Carolina Granite Corporation, Jones said.
This changed the look of our venue from just another building to an incredible statement that is very representative of our community. This is something meaningful to me personally, but I know that it also very meaningful to Andy Griffith. Its very fitting that the sidewalks leading to the Andy Griffith Museum will be Mount Airy granite and the lobby and the countertops are also Mount Airy granite.
Jones said Grace Moravian Church trustees voted last week to loan the Surry Arts Council the baritone that Griffith played when he was in the Moravian band there.
For more information about the museum, visit
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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