Old Salem Receives an Organizational Transformation Grant From the Jessie Ball duPont Fund
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (JUNE 20, 2019) — The Jessie Ball duPont Fund has awarded Old Salem Museums & Gardens a $60,000 unrestricted grant to assist in the re-envisioning of the 70-year-old history site. Old Salem, a national leader in living history experiences, has introduced a series of groundbreaking initiatives, in the last two and a half years. The initiatives are a result of a strategic re-evaluation of Old Salem’s core mission as well as trends in the overall history museum field.
Franklin Vagnone, President of Old Salem Museums & Gardens said, “We feel very supported by our visitors and funders, both through social media as well as financial contributions, but this type of organizational self-reflection and strategic re-alignment is difficult and at times goes unrecognized. This grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund is an affirmation of the difficulty and utmost importance of the transformational work underway at Old Salem. It also says that our work is being appreciated.”
“We are pleased to support Old Salem Museums & Gardens’ bold new strategy, which closely aligns with one of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund’s goals: to increase access to art, history, cultural resources, and education,” said Barbara Roole, senior program officer, Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “This is an important initiative to expand quality resources, inclusivity, and equity that will benefit the whole Old Salem community and all of its visitors.”
The seven Old Salem initiatives being supported are:
ACCESS SALEM: Old Salem Museums and Gardens is dedicated to achieving the highest possible degree of access for all visitors. Old Salem is considering a wide spectrum of needs including cognitive impairments, autism spectrum awareness, sensory limitations, language processing abilities and mobility restrictions. The long-term goal is to transform the Old Salem experience into one that deeply engages our visitors of all ages, no matter the physical or cognitive challenges.
ACTIVATE MAIN STREET: Activate Main Street is an initiative designed to reinvigorate both the historic district environment as well as the visitor experience. Old Salem is dedicated to making guests feel welcomed, taken care of, and fully engaged. The issues addressed in this
initiative range from restoration efforts, interpretive methodology, wayfinding, and basic welcoming gestures.
EQUITY INITIATIVE: Understanding that cultural equity is not just programmatic, Old Salem Museums & Gardens has embarked on a process of self-reﬂection and review with the goal to have the organization represent the communities that surround us. As an organization, we are dedicated to economic, cultural, ability, gender, and racial diversity and inclusion.
HIDDEN TOWN: Old Salem Museums & Gardens has begun a groundbreaking initiative called the Hidden Town Project to research and reveal the history of a community of enslaved and free Africans and African Americans who once lived in Salem, North Carolina. These histories involve the complicated use of slavery and enslaved people to build the town and their contribution to the mercantile prosperity of Salem. The Hidden Town Project will track the effects and legacy of enslaved people from the inception of Salem in 1766 through the Jim Crow Era and into the 21st Century.
LEARNING IN PLACE: Learning in Place takes the historic ideals of education and invites partnerships with educational institutions (elementary through colleges and universities) to create place-based learning opportunities for students and for adult professionals seeking curriculum-based and continuing education courses taught within the historical context of the subject.
SALEM CHECK-UP: Given the scope of our mission and desired experience, Old Salem’s operations need constant review and reconsideration. Building on the foundation of previous administrations, Old Salem is committed to ongoing organizational check-ups, designed to better define our financial and endowment positions, staffing size, programmatic scope, and community engagement. Our goal is to concentrate on mission-centric programs and research, resulting in a strong, focused, and clear future trajectory and a stronger, more sustainable, and more exciting heritage site.
SEEDS WITH STORIES: Seeds with Stories is an initiative aimed at highlighting the histories of Old Salem’s Historic Plant Collection in ways that are engaging to visitors. Old Salem’s restored landscapes and gardens have always been rooted in the reintroduction of historically appropriate trees, shrubs, herbs, ﬂowers, grains, and vegetables. This effort has resulted in a significant collection of heritage plants and seeds. The histories behind these species are significant. By learning and participating in these seeds’ stories they become part of our own story.
About Old Salem
Voted the 2019 #1 Tourist Attraction in North Carolina (AAA), Old Salem Museums & Gardens is a unique living history site with a tactile-driven, immersive visitor experience. Its museums—the Historic Town of Salem, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), and the Gardens at Old Salem are quickly becoming nationally known for innovative and novel interpretive models and programs. Old Salem Museums & Gardens is located at 600 South Main Street in Winston-Salem. For more information call 336-721-7300 or visit oldsalem.org.