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Best History Museums in Raleigh/Durham

By: Cityseeker
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North Carolina Museum of Art

One of the leading art museums of the American South, the North Carolina Museum of Art opened in 1956 as the first in the nation established with public state funds. More than 40 galleries here are home to a permanent collection of paintings, artifacts, and sculptures spanning the history of art from antiquity to the present day. Visitors can see paintings of the European Renaissance, Egyptian funerary artifacts, and contemporary international works of art, among others. An amphitheater hosts outdoor performances, and a museum park features more than a dozen major site-specific works surrounded by forests and fields.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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Duke Homestead State Historic Site

This National Historic Landmark has the first homes, farms, and factories where the Duke family grew and processed tobacco, thereby founding the largest tobacco company in world in the 19th Century. In 1931, the farm was purchased by Duke University, and in 1966, the homestead was designated a historic landmark by the National Park Service. It became a North Carolina State Historic Site in 1974. Visitors can see the restored four-room Duke family homestead, with tobacco bars and historical artifacts. The museum offers exhibits about the history of tobacco farming and processing.

Durham, NC, United States
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Mordecai House

The Mordecai House, built in 1785 and home to the Mordecai family until 1964, is the oldest house in Raleigh. The registered historical landmark and museum is the centerpiece of Mordecai Historic Park. Visitors can take guided tours of the museum and surrounding grounds, which include historical structures like the original birthplace of President Andrew Johnson, the Ellen Mordecai garden, and St. Mark’s chapel. The museum houses Mordecai family furnishings, historical artifacts, papers, and library.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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North Carolina Museum of History

Founded in 1902, this museum is committed to exploring and preserving North Carolina's historical heritage. Among the permanent exhibits here are the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, a history of the state’s role in the creation of funk music, and the expansive Story of North Carolina, a major exhibit tracing life in the state from the time of its first inhabitants through the 20th Century. The museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibits, and a large collection of regional costumes and furnishings.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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City of Raleigh Museum

The City of Raleigh Museum celebrates the history and legacy of Raleigh, from the days of its first inhabitants to those of a 21st-century capitol. The museum was founded in 1993 with initiatives from local historians, and is guided by a mission to store historical artifacts, preserve the city’s past, and urge visitors to contemplate the city’s legacy and future. Visitors can explore the history of Raleigh through 200 years of artifacts and images, including testimonials of Raleigh’s World War II veterans, a history of Raleigh in maps, and an exhibit dedicated to Morgan Latta, a former slave who gained his freedom and established a Raleigh industrial school.

Raleigh, NC, United States
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