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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Museum of the Cape Fear

by Angelyn H. Patteson, 2006

See also: Museums

The Museum of the Cape Fear in Fayetteville is the third regional branch of the North Carolina Museum of History and the only one that began as a branch museum. (The other two regional branches, the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City and the Gateway Museum in Old Fort, operated independently before coming under the Museum of History's umbrella.) The free-admission Museum of the Cape Fear opened in 1987 with funding assistance from the Historic Fayetteville Foundation and with Rodney Barfield as its first curator. It introduces visitors to the history and culture of southeastern North Carolina through exhibits, lectures, and workshops and, as part of its mission as a regional branch, offers expertise to the nonstate historical museums, sites, and agencies in its 20-county service area.

The museum features permanent exhibits on the history of the Piedmont and the lower North Carolina coast from early Native American settlements through the Civil War period. Exhibits on transportation in the region, Fayetteville history (including the devastating 1831 fire), and an 1890 potter's shop are of particular interest. Visitors and school groups are drawn to the temporary exhibit gallery, where changing exhibits have highlighted, among other subjects, African American women in the Cape Fear, traditional crafts of the region, and the region's archaeology. A meeting room provides space for programs, lectures, and films.


Angela Fracaro, "A Fast Start at Looking Back," The State 57 (June 1989).

Karen Rosalinde Zimmer, "An Audience Development Plan for the Museum of the Cape Fear in Fayetteville" (M.A. thesis, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1989).

Additional Resources:

Museum of the Cape Fear:

North Carolina Museum of History:

Video Credit:

"Cape Fear Museum of Science & History." North Carolina Weekend on PBS, Dec. 19, 2013. Accessed Oct. 17, 2023.

Origin - location: