The Reynolda House Museum of American Art is located in Winston-Salem, North Caroline. It is less than 2 miles from Wake Forest University and just 9 miles from downtown Winston-Salem. As Winston-Salem is a part of the Piedmont Triad, the museum is just 32 miles from Greensboro and 24 miles from High Point. As of 2014, the Piedmont Triad has a population of 1,680,845. About 28% of Forsyth County, Winston-Salem’s County, is 18 years of age or younger and about 14% is over the age of 65. About 57% of the county is white, 25% is black and 12% is Hispanic, and 15% of the population lives below the poverty line. Fifteen middle schools and fifteen high schools serve the children throughout Forsyth County. Health Care Services, such as the Wake Forest University/Baptist Medical Center, are the largest employers of the county.
Winston-Salem has a variety of both history and art museums throughout the city, including The Old Salem Museums and Gardens, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and the New Winston Museum. The Reynolda House has 27 permanent employees, including four collections workers, four development workers, and three education workers. It is supported by the Art Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. It is also affiliated with Wake Forest University. The museum’s mission statement claims to preserve and interpret “an American country home and a premier collection of American art. Through innovative public programs and exhibitions, the Museum offers a deeper understanding of American culture to diverse audiences.”
The museum has great internal and external needs including boosting visitation rates, while connecting the historic site and the collection to the people of Forsyth County. It also needs to improve its cataloguing projects by making a large portion of its collection available online. As stated above, Reynolda House is seeking ways to connect its community to the history of the house and collections within the house. They are doing so my creating more interactive exhibits within the museum as well as working to provide more information and history to its website.
The importance of The Reynolda House and its museum is very vast, because it not only represents a powerful time in North Carolina’s tobacco industry, but with its connected art museum, it also inspires visitors to learn and find meaning in the art collection throughout the house and museum. By integrating both the historical house furnishings as well as the art collection, Reynolda House provide more ways for visitors to learn and experience history. As the museum continues its digital makeover and cataloguing initiatives, it will allow for the visitors to learn and experience the museum’s unique culture online as well as in the building itself. This will not only boost visitation, but will aid it providing visitors with better context to what they and seeing and experiencing on the journey throughout the museum. As changing demographics continue throughout Forsyth County, the historical house and museum will have to change with it. The museum recognizes this, and is seeking out ways in which the historical significance of the house and its original tenants can be a “welcoming place for all to discover and celebrate arts, culture, and history.”
This interpretive mission, will require a unique group of support of museum workers as well as people in the community. Although the museum is supported by community foundations as well as the university, it still needs diverse voices in te community to help reach its overall goal of being a welcoming place to all. Educators as well as businessmen and women will need to come together, converse, and work to not only raise funds for these different projects, but also figure out detailed plans for how to bring this all to fruition.