Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Durham's History Has A New Home

The Museum of Durham History (MoDH) has signed a multi-year lease with the City of Durham for the former Downtown Durham Bus Transfer Station to serve as the Museum’s first home.

Located at 521 West Morgan Street, the 1,600-square foot building has been newly named the Durham History Hub. Long-range plans are for the Hub to provide an overview of Durham’s lively past and be a jumping off point for further exploration at various heritage sites. The History Hub’s background and preliminary renderings are found on the Museum’s website.

“Right now, Durham lacks a place where people can get the big picture of our community’s unique past, a place that puts current issues in context and helps guide our future,” said Lew Myers, chairman of the Museum’s board of directors. “We see the Hub having a very positive impact on tourism, downtown redevelopment and hometown pride.”

Immediate plans call for a phased-in basic upfit followed later by finishing the space and completing the design, fabrication and installation of exhibits. “We’re aggressively pursuing corporate, government and foundation grants as well as individual donations,” added Myers. “We have a solid start, but there’s a lot to be done in the funding area. That’s why we’re phasing in our use of the building gradually and concentrating right now on programs and events for our outside space and on services online. We plan to bring permanent staff on board soon to be housed at the Hub.”

When fully operational, the Hub will offer exhibits and installations that engage visitors in topics important to Durham’s development.  Tobacco, textiles, civil rights, higher education, entrepreneurship, and the arts are among potential exhibit areas in the years ahead.

“But we’re not going to be the ‘don’t touch’ kind of museum that relies solely on artifacts,” explained co-director Katie Spencer. “Our focus is people, and we’ll tell Durham’s story through the words and experiences of this community. Several of our early events will be ‘pop-up’ museums where residents can share a family heirloom for a day. And we’ll run a ‘Then and Now’ photo project that visually documents how Durham has changed. From day one, this will be a community museum full of the very human side of history.”

In the next few months, the Hub will be gathering ideas from residents, recruiting volunteers, hosting some community events and taking part in activities such as the Spring Art Walk, Centerfest and Third Fridays. Directions for self-guided downtown walking tours will soon be found at the Hub.

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