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Reynolda House Receives Largest Ever Federal Grant

Reynolda House Museum of American Art staff member Phil Archer poses for a photo in the entrance hall on Friday, January 15, 2016.
Reynolda House Museum of American Art staff member Phil Archer poses for a photo in the entrance hall on Friday, January 15, 2016.

Reynolda House Museum of American Art staff member Phil Archer.

Director of Program & Interpretation Honored with Regional Award

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded Reynolda House Museum of American Art $143,530—the museum’s largest ever federal grant. The grant will support the museum in creating a new mobile audio-visual tour to enable visitors to learn more about the stories conveyed by its grounds, art collection, and archives. The new tour will roll out to visitors in mid-2018.

“This new tour will allow visitors to access multi-layered stories at their own pace and interest level,” says Allison Perkins, executive director. “Reynolda is rich with stories—of the art collection, the Reynolds family, the estate workers, the complex social mores of the early 20th century that divided citizens by race, class, and vocation, and much more. Our new mobile experience will have a profound impact on our visitors’ understanding of the cultural fabric of historic Reynolda.”

Phil Archer, the museum’s Betsy Main Babcock Director of Program and Interpretation, will lead development of the new tour. Archer was recently honored by the Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) with the Outstanding Service to the Museum Profession Award. SEMC officials announced the honor in October at the 2016 annual conference in Charlotte. SEMC represents museums and cultural institutions from a 12-state region along with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In her nomination of Archer for the award, Perkins wrote, “Phil Archer—scholar, teacher, curator, cultural traveler, craftsman, gardener, and wilderness camper—is a leader. And, following the dictates of good leadership, he relies on thorough research, sound advice, and his own unerring sense of right to inform his decisions. We knew that Phil was the person who could lead this reinterpretation of our legacy with honesty, sensitivity, and creativity.”

In developing the new visitor tour for the museum, Archer will consider how best to tell Reynolda’s story with greater truth and transparency, engaging the public with national stories from the aftermath of the Civil War through the Civil Rights movement to the present day. Topics will include the imbalance of industrial wealth, racial inequality during the era of Jim Crow, and tobacco use and the economy it fueled, all using the museum’s collections and historic site to illuminate the content. He and colleagues at the museum and throughout the estate will select the sites, objects, and stories for the audio-visual tour, write the tour content, and oversee design of a custom web app that will deliver the tour.

The tour will encourage visitors to explore both the inside and outside of historic Reynolda and will be available for visitors to download for free before their visit or at the museum. One reviewer of Reynolda House’s IMLS proposal noted that the museum’s approach to the project and the project itself has “the potential to be a model for the field.”

Reynolda House Museum of American Art is one of the nation’s premier American art museums, with masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and Gilbert Stuart among its collection. Affiliated with Wake Forest University, Reynolda House features changing exhibitions, concerts, lectures, classes, film screenings and other events. The museum is located at 2250 Reynolda Rd. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the historic 1917 estate of Katharine Smith Reynolds and her husband, Richard Joshua Reynolds, founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. With its centennial in 2017, Reynolda House will celebrate both its history of interpreting and preserving American art and culture, and its future, which promises exciting exhibitions and innovative reinterpretations of the Reynolda Estate. Along with Reynolda Gardens and Reynolda Village, which feature spectacular public gardens, dining, and shopping, Reynolda House offers a unique experience that spans both the past and present. For more information, please visit reynoldahouse.org or call 336.758.5150. Connect at facebook.com/rhmaa and @VisitReynolda.

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