100 Years of Reynolda + 50 Years of Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Photos provided by Reynolda House.

Reynolda House Museum of American Art is a non-profit, public museum, dedicated to the arts and education. Located in Winston-Salem, the 60-room bungalow built in the “Progressive Era” of 1917 contains a nationally regarded collection of American art. 

“You don’t have to know a thing about art to come here and have a memorable experience.” –Sarah Smith, Director of External Relations at Reynolda House

Conveniently located in proximity to Wake Forest University and SECCA, Reynolda House is a retreat for students, locals, and out of town visitors. The home — which is already an architectural marvel — houses decades of artwork spanning from the colonial period to the present. 

Nine paintings began the collection, with works by artists like Frederic Church, Gilbert Stuart, Albert Bierstadt, William Harnett, William Merritt Chase others.

“Winston-Salem residents would have to travel to DC, New York and elsewhere to see the same quality and variety of American art that we bring to their back doors,” says Sarah Smith, Director of External Relations at Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

From the upcoming exhibition
“Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern,” on view August 18 – November 19 in the Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing Gallery.

This summer, two significant anniversaries are coming up for Reynolda House: 100 years since the completion of the estate and 50 years since the opening of the museum of American art. To celebrate these milestones, the museum will display “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern from August 18 to November 19.

The exhibit carefully pairs O’Keefe’s paintings and her personal wardrobe from the ’20s and into the ’80s. This show exemplifies O’Keefe’s preference for “compact masses, organic silhouettes and minimal ornamentation,” as described in the events calendar.  Photographs of her and her homes by Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Todd Webb, Phillippe Halsman and more are included in the show.

Beyond the Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing Gallery, which houses two traveling exhibitions annually, additional works, spanning the colonial to present era, are displayed in the bedrooms and halls of the historical residence.

The Reynolda House’s online galleries serve as a free survey class in art history, so curious minds can learn the artists who specifically used portraits, landscape or genre images to speak to the American Character or learn which works are from LGBTQ artists and subjects, for example.

In conjunction with exhibitions, living artists, leading scholars and artists in other disciplines whose plays, poems, dance performances or musical compositions that relate to or are inspired by a work in the collection are welcomed in to host special events that deepen, translate, and actualize the presented artistic theories. Gallery talks, workshops, classes, festivals, and performances further connect local talent and groups together.

“Our programming priorities aspire to inspire our region to learn, imagine, and find meaning through American art; they also raise awareness and appreciation for the rich artistic and scholarly riches of our region,” explains Phil Archer, Betsy Main Babcock Director of Program and Interpretation.  

Reynolda House invites the community to social activities, like the past: Reynolda Thursdays, Summertime Social, Harvest Moon Festival, Cinema Under the Stars, and free community day festivals. These programs connect community groups, such as: the Hispanic League, the Urban League, and the Jaycees, to university faculty, and lifelong learners, to access and engage in the arts together.

“An institutional embrace of partnerships can demonstrate that arts organizations exist for the general good and not exclusively their own survival, a message that speaks to donors, city government, foundations – all the forces that determine the survival or decline of the arts in our society,” says Archer. 

For High Point University and Salem College design students Reynolda House served as a gathering space for students to present their design projects to industry-leading design organizations. Even local tattoo artist, Charles Eldridge, with a Tattoo Archive in downtown Winston-Salem, was welcomed into Reynolda House to offer a special event after being inspired by Norman Rockwell’s the iconic “The Tattoo Artist,” (1944) which was on display.

Reynolda House Museum of American Art staff members, Phil Archer and Sarah Smith chat in the breezeway of the Museum’s front lobby.

“It’s tougher for legislatures to de-fund arts entities that are intertwined with other meaningful and life-enriching organizations within a region; and the more communities that are linked in this way, the more social power they build for the protection of the arts in each community,” Archer says.  

To do so, a Wake Forest University Student Advocacy Council helps generate programs for students and for the general public. Even if you’re not keen on the history of art or modern integration of arts, Reynolda House’s programs are constructed to provide points of access to as many audiences as possible.

Other, notable milestones from last year include: Reynolda House welcoming in roughly 35,000 visitors during a four-month exhibition of “Ansel Adams: Eloquent Light,” earning first place for exhibition collateral in the American Alliance of Museum’s Publications Design Competition and tailgating in the parking lot with ham biscuits and bloody marys before exploring the exhibition, “The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement 1887-1920.”

“You don’t have to know a thing about art to come here and have a memorable experience,” Smith adds.

Plan your visit to the century old home today. Note the suggested itineraries for when you have just one hour or three hours to explore, and share your stories by using #MyReynolda.


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