Latest museum exhibit highlights tourism industry from 1930s-1970s

For the Record
Posted 4/16/21

The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh announced a new photography exhibit, “Are We There Yet? North Carolina’s Variety Vacationland, 1930s–1970s,” opening to the public with special hours and protocols Friday, April 30.

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Latest museum exhibit highlights tourism industry from 1930s-1970s

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RALEIGH — The North Carolina Museum of History announced a new photography exhibit, “Are We There Yet? North Carolina’s Variety Vacationland, 1930s–1970s,” opening to the public with special hours and protocols Friday, April 30.

This free exhibit takes a look back at an era when tourism boomed, thanks to largely a state-run marketing effort called “Variety Vacationland.” From the 1930s to the 1970s, the Variety Vacationland campaign successfully created a unified tourism industry in North Carolina by depicting the state as both modern and progressive, but with strong ties to its past.

True to the Jim Crow era, however, most sites promoted were marketed — and accessible — only to white tourists; people of color were neglected and even exploited at times, an attitude this exhibit attempts to point out where possible.

“In this exhibit, I tried to highlight the nuances of the Variety Vacationland campaign,” says exhibit curator Katie Edwards, who is also the curator of popular culture at the Museum of History. “It was effective in that it did successfully bring tourism to the state, but it was a campaign that neglected to include all North Carolina’s citizens and tourists.” 

Visitors will be able to learn about the origins of this campaign, view photographs of sites the campaign promoted (as well as some, for minority audiences, it did not), and take in media the produced for the campaign.

Did you know there was a Variety Vacationland jingle? The exhibit also has an interactive where visitors are encouraged to submit their own favorite North Carolina vacation photos to #NCVacationland.

For information about the NC Museum of History, a Smithsonian Affiliate museum, call 919-814-7000 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org .

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