By Emily Browder
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
“Every major city in North Carolina has a history museum except for Durham,” says Tom Krakauer, chairman of the board for the Museum of Durham History.
Since the 1940s, numerous efforts to create a museum honoring Durham’s history have been attempted but failed. However, beginning in 2004, with the recommendation of the Durham Cultural Master Plan, this dream is now finally becoming a reality, starting with a web site.
Currently the museum is mostly online, however the board members are planning to build a location within the next few years.
The mission of the Museum of Durham History is “to make the stories of Durham’s past available to the local community and visitors, and to encourage people to appreciate the captivating richness of Durham’s history.” Krakauer and the other board members are passionate about this project and enthusiastic to advance its progress in the future.
Krakauer explains that the goal of the museum is to “teach people, spread excitement about Durham and obviously be well-run and have well-maintained exhibits.”
The inaugural exhibit for the museum is currently being housed at Durham Technical Community College. This exhibit has already been featured at Duke University and North Carolina Central University, rotating locations every two to three months.
The exhibit features banners which are two and a half by six feet fabric pieces displayed in hand-wrought metal frames. The banners depict some of the high points in Durham’s art history.
Additionally, other information regarding upcoming plans for the museum can be found online on their web site, www.museumofdurhamhistory.org.
William Evans, the dean of students at Middle College High School at Durham Tech, has been a Durham resident for three years. Evans says, “The museum will be a fabulous opportunity to showcase the history of Durham and a way to tell the story of early Durham residents. This in turn will provide historical context so residents can understand what Durham has become now because of them.”
Board members and advocates for the museum will be working over the course of the next year to find a location in downtown Durham to house the other exhibits. As of now, no location has been selected but the search continues.
Krakauer explains, “One of Durham’s strengths is its diversity and inclusiveness; this is what we want the museum to support. We want the museum to be a dramatic place that engages the visitors rather than strictly celebrating the tangible objects.”
The board of directors for the museum plans to work with the community to generate ideas for what the exhibits should feature. They are currently collecting fan mail and interviewing a number of people who have had a long-time presence in Durham. Once they get into the process of developing exhibits, the community will be involved to an even greater extent.
The Museum of Durham History is going to be infused with stories and information about Durham’s history. This museum for the community now needs help from the community. Krakauer says, “A good museum is an exciting place. People have a lot of pride in what Durham is and where it’s come from, so I am excited for the many opportunities we have to impact the community and share Durham’s history.”