A Message from the MoDH

Human history is more than a lifeless list of dates and events. It is the story of people. The Museum of Durham History uses such stories to foster curiosity, encourage further inquiry and promote an understanding about diverse perspectives about the Durham community.

To be responsible, a museum must include ugly chapters of the narrative because these, too, are part of our overall heritage. Slavery was just such a chapter, and we see its lasting effects in the divisiveness that continues to plague America with feelings fueled by symbolic reminders such as monuments, flags and offensive words.

The statue in front of Durham’s old courthouse commemorated Confederate soldiers who’d died in the Civil War. The statue was erected in 1924 and sponsored by the local United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter who may have felt the 1923 Unity monument erected at the Bennett Place surrender site had received inordinate attention. But the courthouse statue, toppled last week, was a reminder of bigotry and oppression, a lightning rod for destructive behavior that has no place in a vibrant, forward-looking Durham.

The museum’s goal is to help Durham learn from its history, not repeat it. We promote a culture of inclusiveness in our telling of Durham’s stories and strongly condemn hate-filled rhetoric and actions whose aim is to denigrate and incite.  A war-weary Abraham Lincoln said it best in his second inaugural address when he urged our nation “with malice toward none, with charity for all … to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”



The Museum of Durham History is a 21st-century museum that uses stories about people, places and things to foster curiosity, encourage further inquiry, and promote an understanding of diverse perspectives about the Durham community and its history. The museum is putting its mission into action through a personal approach to history that sets this museum apart: an innovative, community model that engages with history through stories—the personal memories, experiences and family lore of our shared heritage.


We believe that history is relevant to understanding Durham today.

The museum documents and shares all of Durham’s stories, particularly those that traditionally have not been made a part of the historical record.

We confront difficult issues, encourage questions, and listen and learn from each other.

We take risks and experiment; success and failure are opportunities for learning.

The museum continually works to earn the trust of its community, partners and supporters.

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