Monday, February 4, 2008

'Mysteries of the Lost Colony' Exhibit Proves to be Huge Hit

Nearly 58,000 Saw Lost Colony Exhibit

Approximately 58,000 people took advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the exhibit “Mysteries of the Lost Colony” and “A New World: England’s First View of America” from the British Museum. The exhibit ran from Oct. 20, 2007, to Jan. 14, 2008, at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.

“This was the most exciting exhibit the museum has ever presented,” says Ken Howard, director of the N.C. Museum of History. “It had one of the highest attendance records for an exhibit, and visitor response was extremely positive.”

“Mysteries of the Lost Colony” and “A New World” brought many “firsts” to the N.C. Museum of History. For example, it was the first venue in North America to showcase the complete collection of watercolor drawings made by John White on his voyages to Virginia (now North Carolina) in the 1580s. These watercolors appeared in the traveling exhibition “A New World: England’s First View of America,” presented by the British Museum in London.

In “Mysteries of the Lost Colony,” visitors learned about England’s first attempts at a permanent settlement in America and about several theories surrounding the colonists’ disappearance at Roanoke Island. The exhibit also featured the 70-year history of the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony,” based in Manteo. Mysteries of the Lost Colony was presented by the N.C. Museum of History in collaboration with the Roanoke Island Historical Association, producer of “The Lost Colony.”

Visitors Contributed Toward Costume Replacement Fund

Mysteries of the Lost Colony showcased nine costumes, stage props and a number of artifacts saved from the Sept. 11, 2007, fire that struck Waterside Theatre and destroyed three buildings at “The Lost Colony” site. Among the devastating losses were hundreds of the costumes, including historic ones from the drama’s early years, housed in the Irene Smart Rains Costume Shop.

To help with recovery efforts, a donation box was placed in the exhibit for “The Lost Colony” Costume Replacement Fund, and visitors contributed more than $1,300 toward new costumes. Additionally, the Museum Shop carried merchandise from “The Lost Colony” gift shop in Manteo. All proceeds from these items went toward the fund, and the sales raised more than $5,000.

“We are thankful to the N.C. Museum of History for allowing us to partner with this historical project,” says Carl V. Curnutte, executive director and producer of “The Lost Colony.” “The funds collected from exhibit visitors reaffirm our commitment to ‘The Lost Colony’ — America’s story. We are thankful to those who contributed to our replacement fund. Their gift will help us keep telling this story for the next 70 years.”

The museum’s hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 919-807-7900 or visit The museum is part of the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, an agency of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources,