One of the best places to view more than 300 years of decorative works by American artists is the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Built in 1917, this site is the former family home of R.J. Reynolds, his wife, and their children. He was a businessman with an eponymous tobacco company whose family established the museum in their home in the 1960s. The museum is about a 30-minute drive from Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro.
What was once a thriving and self-sufficient estate is now a historic home and museum dedicated to American culture, with walkable gardens and outbuildings housing shops and restaurants. For more than ten years, Reynolda House has been affiliated with Wake Forest University, a relationship that includes educational programs, opportunities for students to intern at the museum, and even a walking trail between the former estate and the school grounds.
Since opening about 50 years ago, Reynolda House has exhibited the works of American masters like Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Andy Warhol, William Sidney Mount, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Exhibits are curated around a particular artist, medium, or theme. The museum holds two more collections in addition to its American art collection: estate archives and historic house objects. These collections include photographs, ceramics, clothing, furniture, toys, and much more.
The Reception Hall is especially notable — it’s representative of early 20th-century interior design and reflects the decor choices of Katharine Reynolds herself. Much of it looks just like it did when she lived in the home. The freedom to walk around the hall and see it was it was is an amazing opportunity to step back in time and truly grasp what kind of elegance and grandeur this home displayed.
There are quite a few points of interest specific to Reynolda House that guests just won’t see anywhere else. Visitors to the museum can enjoy the once-daily performance of the Aeolian organ, one of the last four manual organs still played as installed in its original location and sporting more than 2500 pipes. Acres and acres of trails and flower and vegetable gardens lead to Reynolda Village, where guests can shop locally, and enjoy light fare or meals prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients. A visit to Reynolda House is more than just a museum visit. Special after hours events are open to the public, and feature social hours, film series, performances, and annual festivals. Educational programs are geared towards kids, families, adults, scholars and educators, and college students. There’s always something special happening at Reynolda House.
All images courtesy of Aniesia Williams.