The Starring North Carolina Exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History will be open until September 7, 2015, so there’s still plenty of time to visit this wonderful exhibit that explores the relationship between North Carolina and the film industry. Travel writer George Taylor takes a look at Starring North Carolina and it’s Disney connections.
So, I got a press release about the North Carolina Museum of History mentioning the exhibit called Starring North Carolina. It’s all about the Old North State and the movie industry. What caught my attention is there were props from Iron Man 3 and the coonskin cap worn by Fess Parker in Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier.
I knew I couldn’t pass up this exhibit.
The whole exhibit is subtitled 100 Years 3000 films.
Obviously, I was pretty excited to see the Iron Man props but I was really surprised at the depth and size of the exhibit.
The North Carolina Museum of History
The North Carolina Museum of History is located in Raleigh. It’s near the legislative building, which actually looks like an early EPCOT Center prototype, and the State Library!
The exhibit debuted in November 2014 and is running through September 2015. Still plenty of time to see it.
The exhibit costs $10.00 per adult and $6.00 for students. Like many museums, they are moving towards a free admission, but you have to pay for special exhibits. Starring North Carolina is on the third floor of the museum. You pick up a sticker when you buy your tickets that lets you in. The entire exhibit space is 8,000 square feet, which is deceptively large.
The Starring North Carolina Exhibit
The first things that you see are the Stark Bunny (a small one) and the outfit for the headless horseman from Sleepy Hollow.
Overall, we spent at least two hours in the exhibit and I could have spent more time, especially at the beginning with the displays on early filmmaking in North Carolina. NC has always been a great spot for making movies. It was very popular during the early 1900s when a lot of films were made in New York. NC was a great alternative to the big city, for weather and for the scenery.
The first part of the exhibit is dedicated to the early years of filmmaking. You see a lot of monitors with depictions of some early film, but most of the displays are static featuring images from the films or the stars. There was a lot of filming done in Asheboro and, eventually, the Biltmore area.
From there, the exhibit is pretty eclectic and you run through the major productions that were filmed in North Carolina. And there were a lot.
Starring North Carolina: Davy Crockett
The Davy Crockett display was pretty cool, especially to see such an amazing piece of Americana on display. While I was taking a few photos of it, every person that walked by started singing the theme song. Born on a mountain-top in Tennessee. Greenest state in the land of the free…
North Carolina’s movie scene changed dramatically in the 1980s, when producer Dino De Laurentiis arrived to film “Firestarter,” based on a Stephen King novel. He liked the area so much that he decided to build a studio in Wilmington, thus launching the path to “Hollywood East.”
Starring North Carolina: Iron Man 3
Throughout the exhibit, there were a few small displays focused on Iron Man 3. Sometimes, it was a t-shirt or a water bottle branded for the cast. Other times it was a major prop or piece from the film.
Pictured above is a 24k gold-plated Iron Man keychain that was given to various members of the production from Robert Downey, Jr. It’s got diamonds for eyes!
A video accompanied the exhibit featuring the pieces of Iron Man from the scene in which the Mark 42 is blown up. My eleven year-old really enjoyed seeing these props close up.
Who Should Visit Starring North Carolina?
Hundreds of major motion pictures, independent films, made-for-TV movies, television shows, and documentaries have been filmed across the state. North Carolina is home to thousands of professional crew members that make these films happen, and many actors have strong ties to the state.
Most of the displays for the films are in standalone exhibits with a major prop piece, like a costume, and other pieces. There are images from the film and information about the production, the stars and the crew. It’s really quite an impressive display that’s worth several hours of your time. The entire exhibit is 8,000 square feet and covers the entire history of film making in North Carolina. I was completely shocked by the number of films that I knew (and didn’t know) that had been filmed in the state.
- Anyone with an interest in filmmaking is going to love this exhibit. (Film students, film enthusiasts and fans.)
- It’s probably a little too much walking and reading for most younger kids. (Even my 11 year-old found it difficult to pay attention despite the promise of Iron Man.)
- I would dedicate at least two hours (if not half a day) to visit Starring North Carolina.
Hours for the North Carolina Museum of History
Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.
Closed New Year’s Day, Easter, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
Starring North Carolina Trip Report on Communicore Weekly
Check out the Trip Report that George did on Communicore Weekly (a theme park and entertainment podcast).