RALEIGH — Soon visitors at the N.C. Museum of History will be able to walk through the state’s fourth-oldest house, see the hold of a 1700s pirate ship, or view a traditional American Indian home.
The museum’s newest exhibit, The Story of North Carolina, will chronicle the history of the entire state through artifacts, multimedia and hands-on activities. Part one, which opens Saturday, will highlight the years before the 1830s.
“The Story of North Carolina is presented in an engaging and interactive format that will appeal to all ages,” says Ken Howard, the director of the museum.. “We believe museum visitors will come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the people and events that have shaped North Carolina.”
When complete, the 20,000-square-foot exhibit will be the only permanent exhibit focusing on the history of the entire state. Part two will debut Nov. 5.
Highlights in part one include American Indian life, European settlement, piracy, and the American Revolution. It will unearth the state’s early history with artifacts, multimedia and hands-on activities.
A tour of part one begins in a tranquil forest setting, introducing the visitor to the people who lived in North Carolina more than 10,000 years ago. They left no written history, but the objects they used tell their stories. Featured are stone tools dating from 12,000 to 1,000 B.C., and information about the nomadic lifestyles of ancient North Carolinians.
Walking farther in, guests will learn about American Indians who established communities in eastern North Carolina. A 3,000-year-old dugout canoe that was used for transportation and fishing in Lake Phelps is displayed.
At the center of the gallery, a reproduction of a typical Piedmont Siouan home invites visitors to watch a video about how life changed for Indians after the arrival of the Europeans to North Carolina.
The next exhibit takes a darker tone, chronicling political instability, rebellion and Indian wars during the colony’s earliest decades. The area became known as a haven for pirates, luring Edward Thatch — better known as Blackbeard.
Visitors can walk the wooden floors of the hold of a pirate ship to view a cannon, pewter plate, gold flakes and other items recovered from the “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” Blackbeard’s flagship. It’s wreckage was discovered at Beaufort Inlet in 1996.
Continuing through the exhibit, visitors will see the effect immigrants had on the area, as well as exhibits on the Edenton Tea Party in 1774, and battles in the state that eventually led to victory in the American Revolution.
North Carolina became the 12th state on Nov. 21, 1789. Exhibits show artifacts from the time period that residents used to express their new national identity.
During the 1800s, most North Carolinians lived on small farms. Visitors can experience the daily farm chores with exhibits that allow them to feel the weight of a full water bucket that had to be carried from the well to the farmhouse, or “milk” Buttercup the cow.
“Visitors will be able to continue their journey through the 1800s in November,” says RaeLana Poteat, the curator of Political and Social History. “The second part of the exhibit begins with an interactive map explaining improvements in transportation, education, and agriculture, and then addresses slavery and antebellum society.”
Part two will also chronicle the Civil War, the rise of industry, the Great Depression, and the two World Wars.