SCHEDULE NOTICE: The museum will be closed Friday, November 16 to prepare for the holiday season. We apologize for any inconvenience.

upcoming Exhibits

American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
March 2-June 23, 2019

American Democracy - A Great Leap of FaithInspired by the new permanent exhibition at the National Museum of American History, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, explores America’s bold experiment in a government “of, by, and for the people.” From the Smithsonian Institution, this exhibition is the centerpiece of a high-profile initiative on democracy and civics education. Featuring engaging multimedia experiences, immersive design, and artifacts from the Smithsonian and state historical organizations, American Democracy will demonstrate that democracy relies on our active participation in the quest to form a “more perfect union.” Exhibit sections explore the origins of our democracy, the changing identity of eligible voters, the machinery of democracy, the right to petition and protest beyond the ballot, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

The premiere venue of this 12-city tour, Durham Museum curators will incorporate local stories and artifacts from our own collections and other state institutions into the exhibition resulting in a unique installation that visitors will not see anywhere else. As an exhibition and catalyst for public programming, American Democracy will inspire audiences, reflect the value of civics education, and spark important discussions that are essential to a healthy democracy.

After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading
March 30-July 28, 2019

150 Years of Transcontinental RailroadingOn May 10, 1869, two railroads—built with haste, hope and aspiration—joined in a lonely, dry desert of northern Utah, at a place called Promontory. On that day, dignitaries from both companies—the Central Pacific, which had built from California, and the Union Pacific, which had built from the east—gave speeches and installed ceremonial last spikes.
The ceremonies were meant as a moment of self-congratulation, but the significance of the day’s events is far broader. In the ensuing decades, railroad after railroad proposed new, competing transcontinental routes—and sometimes completed them. Their construction swept away the dominance of native tribes, ended the open range, and restructured the West into a network of resources and industries dependent upon clusters of urban centers.
To mark the 150th anniversary of the beginning of this era, the Center for Railroad Photography & Art has launched a special project, After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading. The exhibition features period photographs by some of the most accomplished photographers in the nation’s history, artists such as William Henry Jackson, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, and Carleton E. Watkins, but also recent photography from artists who explore the lasting impact railroads have had on the landscape. At stake in all of these images, both period and more contemporary, is not only the railroad itself as a subject, but how photographers of different eras, with different motivations and different sensibilities, have thought of the transcontinental railroads and their legacy. The Center for Railroad Photography & Art (www.railphoto-art.org) and The Durham Museum have collaborated to present this exhibition.

Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family
June 8 -September 1, 2019

T rex - Meet the FamilyWhat has 60 razor-sharp teeth, bone-crushing jaws, lived 68 million years ago and will be visiting The Durham Museum next summer? Tyrannosaurus rex…arguably the world’s most popular dinosaur!
Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family is the world’s first exhibition showcasing the newly-revised tyrannosaur family tree and shows how this group became the world’s top predators with their massive skulls, powerful jaws and bone-crunching teeth. While the most famous member of this family was the mighty T. rex, tyrannosaurs came in all shapes and sizes.
Using cutting-edge technology, this innovative, multimedia experience features more than 10 life-sized dinosaur specimens on display, including one of the oldest tyrannosaurs, Guanlong wucaii. With a dramatic array of fossils and casts of tyrannosaur specimens, Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family provides a snapshot of dinosaur life. The exhibition was created by the Australia Museum and toured internationally by Flying Fish.

Louder Than Words: Rock, Power & Politics
October 12, 2019 – February 2, 2020

Rock, Power and PoliticsLouder Than Words: Rock, Power & Politics looks at some of the most important debates in our country through the lens of rock music. The exhibit includes exclusive video interviews with people such as Bono and Jimmy Carter, and combines them with interactives, photography and artifacts to examine how music has both shaped and reflected our culture norms on eight political topics: Civil Rights, LGBT Issues, Feminism, War & Peace, Censorship, Political Campaigns, Political Causes and International Politics. The exhibit is organized by presidential administrations – from Eisenhower through Obama – and uses historical context to shed insight into how we view these issues today. Examples of artifacts included in the exhibit are:

Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” Fender Stratocaster from Woodstock
John Lennon’s acoustic guitar from the 1969 Montreal and Amsterdam “Bed-ins for Peace”
Correspondence between the FBI and Priority Records regarding N.W.A’s “Fight the Power”
Original handwritten lyrics from Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a- Changin’,” Chuck Berry’s “School Day,” Neil Young’s “Ohio,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A” and Green Day’s “American Idiot”
Original Village People stage costumes
Artifacts related to the Vietnam war, the May 4, 1970 shooting at Kent State, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement

Curators from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Newseum worked with veteran music journalist, author and television producer Bill Flanagan (VH1 Storytellers, CMT Crossroads, CBS News Sunday Morning) to create this unique exhibition.