Exhibits & collections

Past Exhibits in our Special Collections and Traveling Exhibits Gallery

Key Ingredients: America by Food (January 10- February 22, 2009)

Key Ingredients is a traveling exhibit that came from the "Museums on Main Street" Division of the Smithsonian Institute. This exhibit offered an educational experience where visitors travel through America’s food history by using interactive displays where visitors saw pictures, read information and even tried on large cheese hats! This was the museum grand opening exhibit which started in January 2009. It traveled to 12 museums, libraries, and schools in Georgia that were privileged to be chosen out of the 36 that applied.

A brief statement in the Food, Family, and Community: A Collection of Georgia Memories publication distributed with the exhibit states that “Curated by folklorist Charles Camp, Key Ingredients: America by Food explores the connections between Americans and the foods they produce, prepare, preserve, and present at table - a provocative and thoughtful look at the historical, regional, and social traditions that merge in everyday meals and celebrations.”



Windows to Heaven: Russian Icons of the 16-20th Centuries (March 6- June 7, 2009)

This beautiful collection of religious Russian artwork came from a private collector in the Atlanta area. Most of the collection is egg tempera paint on wood panel and encased in a 24k gold frame and kiot. Many pieces once hung in churches and were believed to be literal windows into heaven, a direct connection to the Holy Trinity. Many icons were destroyed during the Communist rule in Russia, and any icons surviving from the time before 1922, were either shipped out of the country, or well hidden under floorboards and behind walls.

There were several icons exhibited that are associated with miraculous works, specifically healings. One piece included in this exhibit housed a reliquary; bones of a saint hidden behind a small piece of wood on the back. It was associated with the miraculous healing of a woman.

Each icon presents an array of symbolism perfectly integrated in beautiful artwork that can be appreciated by everyone. Similar subjects and themes were used frequently by the artists. One of the favorites and most coveted is Christ Pantocrator meaning almighty or all powerful.  Other common scenes included the Virgin Mother with Christ child, the Holy Trinity, and Saint George Slaying the Dragon.  Each subject had special meaning to the Russian people, Russian Orthodox Church, and Christian religion in general.


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Americana Exhibit (July 11- August 30, 2009)

This incredible collection of WWI and WWII posters and memorabilia showcased amazing artwork and artifacts from an era of great nationalism and honor. Posters in this were used during the wars as advertisements for war bonds, sending food and supplies to troops, and “keeping military strategies quiet”. Some of the items on display included German Lugers and sabers from WWII, Japanese flags from WWII and American military souvenirs from both wars.


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Relativity: Artist’s Books by Amy Pirkle (September 4- November 22, 2009)

 The exhibit of handmade books by Amy Pirkle was chosen for the museum to showcase a talented artist that has taken her passion and is using it to not only share with the world, but also impart to others. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Art from Mercer University and an MFA in Book Arts from University of Alabama, Ms. Pirkle took a teaching position there, and is now showing students how to make these beautiful and unique letterpress books. Her collection on display at the McDuffie Museum showed some of her most treasured pieces that were based on family stories and poems written by her sister. Ms. Pirkle makes these pieces from start to finish by crafting the paper, engraving and pressing the images and setting the type.


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Century of Seams: Historic Clothing from 1850-1950 (December 19, 2009- April 18, 2010)

Our Century of Seams exhibit showed the evolution of clothing over one hundred years by displaying pictures, information, and clothing examples from each decade. A wide variety of clothing articles were showcased in this exhibit including, an 1895 wedding dress, a linen men’s driving coat from 1910, and a women’s rice glove from 1850 to name a few. All the items in the exhibit were local (some from McDuffie County and others from Wilkes County, on loan from the Washington Historical Museum). Due to the exhibit’s popularity, we plan expanding this collection and displaying it again.


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Pedal to the Metal: Pedal and Toy Cars of the 50s, 60s, and 70s (April 24-August 22, 2010)

Most people that grew up in the 1950s and 60s remember when children’s toy cars were equipt with pedals instead of a motor, and this exhibit takes visitors back to that era. These fun pedal and toy cars are on display for the whole summer to teach us, or in many cases, remind us of what summer is all about, kids having fun outside! Some of the main features in this display are a 1960s “Dude Wagon” pedal car with an attached U-Haul trailer, miniature farm scene complete with horse trailers, silo, and animals, and vintage toy stock car advertisements. This exhibit will leave you reminiscing about the good ol’ days, so don’t miss out! Rev-up your engines and race - or at least pretend to race - down to the McDuffie Museum today to see Pedal to the Metal!


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The Countdown: Apocalyptic Artwork of Zebedee Armstrong (October 2010- February 2011)

Zebedee (or Z.B. for short) Armstrong was a local man who lived a very humble life. He was born in 1910 and grew up in McDuffie County on a farm. He was always building things, and one of the stories he liked to tell was of his father telling him, “Don’t use my nails and wood”, but when he saw what he could do, he bought him nails and wood. His house was filled with things he built, some objects for decorations, and others had a more practical use. For example, he built two safes to store his money and valuables.

In 1969 his beloved wife passed away, and legend has it that shortly after her passing, he was visited by an angel who told him that the end of the world was approaching. Being a very religious man, Z.B. became concerned with this angel’s message, and started to work on “countdown” devices to predict the exact date on which the world would end. Our fall exhibit features a wide variety of these devices. Many look like clocks decorated with drawn lines and dots, while others are calendar-like wall hangings. Each piece is made from found objects meticulously constructed, and usually have moving parts. These pieces have been exhibited at many museums around the country, and we at the McDuffie Museum are excited to present this local artist’s intriguing work!


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White Oak Baskets: The Tradition Continues (March 8th- April 16th 2011)

This exhibition was a result of a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts awarded to Floyd Anderson of Milledgeville. The grant allowed Randy Cannon of Milledgeville and Brian Renko of Gray, GA to serve as white oak basket making apprentices for the past eighteen months under the direction of Anderson and his wife, Melissa. Both Cannon and Renko are staff members of Allied Arts. They felt it was important to document the project. Cannon says, “White oak basket making is an important part of Georgia folk history and the craft is fast disappearing. In 1995 about 27 white oak basket makers resided in Georgia, today less than 12 are here.”

The Andersons learned white oak basket making from the late Joe Dennis of Baldwin County. Floyd first met Dennis at Brown’s Crossing Craftsmen Fair in the late 1960’s and studied under him until his death in 1983. Melissa Anderson began her study of basket making in 1980, learning skills from both Dennis and Floyd Anderson.
The exhibition photographically documents the entire process, from selecting and harvesting white oak trees and preparing the raw materials to the actual weaving of a variety of functional baskets. The exhibit will also include basket making tools, a shaving horse, folklore associated with the craft and a collection of about 50 white oak baskets. According to Cannon, “The exhibition will include large cotton baskets and miniature baskets that measure less than 4 inches as well as every size and shape in between.”

The McDuffie Museum has also included a few local baskets to display alongside the exhibit: one split oak basket from the Dunn family dating to the late 19th century/early 20th century, and several pine needle baskets made by the late Reesie Wells (whose baskets have been displayed in many museums around the country, one of which is in the permanent Smithsonian collection in Washington, D.C.).



Black History Exhibit (Feb 8th - April 30th 2012)


The Black History exhibit explored the relationships between different black leaders revolving around the time of the civil rights movement. The exhibit features many items from the life of James Brown. You can also learn how the Godfather of Soul saved Boston from rioting following Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. Also on display will be artwork from local artist Jake McCord.

A signed, first edition of Dr. King's first book, "Stride Towards Freedom," is a part of this exhibit, as are four 5 gallon storage pots made by slaves in Edgefield County, SC, including two by David Drake, better known as "Dave the Slave."


Relay for Life, Olympic Torch Run, and Local Photographs

May 10th - July 31st, 2012

This Museum offering was a local exhibit containing information, awards, and pictures of our community's premier fundraiser: Relay for Life. We have historically been in the top of the nation in per capita giving to benefit the American Cancer Society through this local love fest. The exhibit will also focus on our efforts in the 1996 Olympic Torch Run, in which a lighted torch was carried through our county by six local individuals, called "Community Heroes". We will have pictures, information, and an actual torch on display. The final third of this exhibit contained large photographs of local people, buildings, and activities, with many photos from the 1931 Thomson Bulldog Bark Annual, photos of Miss Vera's Kiddie Ranch from about 1957, great photos from Dearing, GA, and photos from the Georgia Power Company's "Champion Home Town" contest for 1949 .Many local mommas and daddys were in this display.


New Harmonies

March 29 - May 11, 2013

New Harmonies is a traveling exhibit that came from the "Museums on Main Street" Division of the Smithsonian Institute.  As well as enjoying the Smithsonian display boards, local music history was also empahsized. Thomson native, Chris Crenshaw displayed his musical talents on the trombone at our opening ceremony. Our Tourism and Museum Boards scheduled performances from Chatham County LIne, Randall Bramblett, Steve James and Augusta, Georgia's Decorus choir to complement the visual display at the museum.  The culminating event was the Annual Blind Willie Blues Festival.  Over the entire event celebrating America's Roots music, the city and the museum had approximately 4,000 visitors.



Yard Art, Collection of Local Artist, Mark Chalker

May through August, 2013

Local Warren County resident, Mark Chalker, generously loaned his collection of animals he has created from various iron items, i.e. wrenches, hub caps, engine parts, etc.  From the very large horse to the smaller lady bugs and flowers, children were fascinated and thoroughly entertained. 




North Augusta Entertainment Exhibit

February through May 2014

The generosity of the North Augusta Arts Council enabled us to display the entertainment history of that area including radio, television, music, movie and sport celebreties.  A grand opening was held featuring Flo Carter and Carey Murdock. Visitors were many and all enjoyed reminiscing about life in the 40's, 50's 60's and 70's in the CSRA area.




Patriotic Display, Celebrating America from the American Revolution to Vietnam and Iraq

May 31 - August 30, 2014

Combining Memorial Day, Independance Day and Veteran's Day, the Museum saluted all Veterans from the Revolutionary War through Vietnam.  Posters, weapons, uniforms and biographies of local veterans were presented.  Local veterans loaned their uniforms and photos to be viewed on our "porch". Local citizens' histories from retired Lt. General Dewayne Patrick's military history to Anne Marshall Howell Chamberlain's W.A.S.P. history were highligted in pictures and memorabilia.


Dearing-Boneville Exhibit

October 1, 2014 - January 31, 2015


The exhibit was a wonderful compilation of Dearing and Boneville history, including photos, mementos of days gone by, handiwork and pottery, the history of various businesses established and thriving in Dearing to include Hillcrest Dairy Farm, McCorkle Nurseries and Culpepper Lumber to name a few.  Scrapbooks and photos were available for perusing while on your visit.