The Museum building and exhibits are open every Saturday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Some exhibits are available to view online – head to the Virtual Exhibits page to check them out. Find more free history programs on the Digital Learning page.
The 1774 Alexander Rock House & Homesite
The 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Rock House & Homesite is the oldest standing structure in Mecklenburg County and the only surviving pre-Revolutionary War home. The grounds include the 1774 Rock House, a reconstructed kitchen and springhouse, and an 18th century tobacco barn moved from a neighboring county. The site tells the story of the Alexander family and the 17 or more enslaved people, including Bet, Isaac, and others, who lived and worked on the grounds. To learn about the Homesite, click on 1774 Alexander Homesite.
“The Language of Clay: Catawba Indian Pottery & Oral Traditions”
Temporary Exhibit – Opens July 31st
Pottery making is the single most unbroken material tradition of the Catawba Nation’s long history and is still done with methods handed down through generations. “The Language of Clay” features dozens of clay pottery pieces created by Catawba artisans from the 19th century to the present that represent various Catawba traditions and legends. The exhibit also highlights oral histories and stories from those who are preserving pottery making traditions. “The Language of Clay: Catawba Indian Pottery & Oral Traditions” is a traveling exhibition, organized by the University of South Carolina Lancaster.
In rural Mecklenburg County, Siloam School, built in the early 1920s, was a beacon of light to young Black students who saw education as a means of advancement, despite racial segregation. The new wood siding and the glistening glass windows have faded, but the school itself remains, reminding us of the promise and importance of education. Explore the history of the school, the Rosenwald Fund, and Black education in Mecklenburg County through this new, immersive exhibit. The Museum is leading a $1 million community fundraising effort to save the historic school. Once restored and relocated to the Museum campus, the school will return to its life as a community space and place for conversation, dialogue, and progress to help build a stronger, more equitable, and just future. Click here to learn more about the Save Siloam School Project.
Chas Fagan Retrospective
Temporary Exhibit, Virtual Tour Available
Chas Fagan is one of Charlotte’s most distinguished artists. A Pennsylvania native, his love of history inspires his portfolio of sculpture, portraiture, and landscapes. He has re-envisioned the likenesses of Neil Armstrong, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene, and more. On display at the Museum are maquettes, models, and test portions of his larger-than-life sculptures, as well as paintings from his personal collection. “Spirit of Mecklenburg,” The Charlotte Museum of History Collection. Catawba Pottery, Artist: Arzada Sanders, on loan from Euldean Miller. All other works: Collection of Chas Fagan.
View the virtual tour of the Retrospective here.
Solving the Rock House Mysteries
Continuing Exhibit, Virtual Tour Available
The 1774 Alexander Rock House is an incredible historic preservation success story for Mecklenburg County and the surrounding region. Solving the Rock House Mysteries celebrates this success and explores historic preservation through the restoration and preservation of the Alexander Homesite.
While a tour of the Rock House allows visitors to step back in time, Solving the Rock House Mysteries answers many of questions about the history of the house beyond the Alexanders’ time there, through the 1960s and 1970s restorations, and up to the present.
This exhibit tells the story of how the Rock House was meticulously restored by preservation architects and craftsmen drawing on construction materials and techniques used in the mid-1700s and furnished by material culture experts with antiques from the region and period.
Check out the virtual tour of this exhibit here.
Charlotte Neighborhoods explores the growth and development of Charlotte from its settlement up to the twentieth century, with a focus on the rise of segregation, the growth of the middle class, urban renewal, and the civil rights movement.
The exhibition includes historic and current maps, photographs, and stories from residents that show why, where, and how the area grew.
Highlighted neighborhoods include Plaza-Midwood, Brooklyn/Second Ward, Biddleville, Center City/Uptown, and NoDa.
Keeping Watch on Water: Looking Back at Our City of Creeks
Many Mecklenburg creeks are unimposing. Located nearer to their headwaters, the creeks begin as mere trickles near the tops of the county’s modest ridges. The stream network is the aquatic equivalent of the human body’s tiny capillaries, not its major arteries. Mecklenburg County has 3,000 miles of creeks, which laid end to end, would stretch from Miami to Vancouver, Canada. Only about a third have water year-round, the others only during wet seasons. They may be ditches or spring-fed seeps, not recognized as small creeks, but seen as little more than nuisances in a heavy rain. Many have been imprisoned in pipes and culverts.
This exhibit features historic photographs and educational panels that reveal the complex relationship residents have with the many miles of creeks, as well as Nancy Pierce’s beautiful photos of both robust and long-neglected waterways and an original oil painting titled A River Runs Through by artist Zhang Yaowu. Artist Lauren Rosenthal’s 12-foot-high Mecklenburg Creeks is a beautiful original composition of the waterways of Charlotte.