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Visiting Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on April 22, 2024.

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The Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC, is an icon of American art and history. The collection here encompasses over 6,000 pieces representing Reynolda’s artistry and famous artists’ works.

The museum is located within Reynolda, a sprawling 170-acre estate in Winston-Salem built in 1917. Reynolda is comprised of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art (the estate’s centerpiece), the massive Reynolda Gardens, and the picturesque Reynolda Village.

Travelers to Winston-Salem should top their itinerary with a visit to the Reynolda estate, especially the House Museum of American Art.

In this guide, we will dive deep into the historical and artistic significance of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art and touch on the other parts of Reynolda that you can’t miss out on.

Here’s how we have laid out this guide:

  • History of Reynolda
  • Reynolda House Museum of American Art
    • Admission and Ticket Info
    • Exhibits
  • Things to Do Nearby
    • Reynolda Gardens
    • Reynolda Village
    • More Winston-Salem Attractions

You can skip to any section within this guide or continue reading about the History of Reynolda House before moving on to how to visit the Reynolda House Museum of American Art!

Read More: 10 of the Most Interesting Museums in Winston-Salem for Everyone!

History of Reynolda House

    Reynolda House Museum of American Art

The Reynolda estate was built by tobacco tycoon R.J. Reynolds, who arrived in Winston, North Carolina, in 1874. Over the next century, he and his family oversaw the construction and management of the estate.

  • In 1905, Reynolds married Katharine Smith, who began buying property outside the city. She accumulated 27 land acquisitions over 13 years, which eventually came together to form the estate.
  • By 1912, construction was in full swing at Reynolda, a self-sustaining estate with a farm, village, and gardens. Katharine designed and directed the efforts to build Reynolda House.
  • In 1913, Reynolda’s Greenhouse was finished, now serving as a public entrance to the Gardens.
  • The main house was completed by 1917; R.J. Reynolds, Katharine, and their four children moved in. Reynolds died a year later.
  • In 1935, the new generation of Reynolds took over ownership of the estate; Mary Reynolds, R.J. and Katharine’s daughter purchased Reynolda from her siblings and renovated it, adding a guesthouse and recreational facilities.
  • In 1946, Mary and her husband, Charles Babcock, donated 300 acres of the estate to Wake Forest College to use as its site for its move to Winston-Salem. On October 15, 1951, President Truman visited the estate for the college’s groundbreaking and dined at Reynolda.
  • After Mary died in 1953, her husband started the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and donated Reynolda Gardens to Wake Forest University.

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Reynolda House shoes
  • Reynolda House and its surrounding 19 acres were incorporated as a nonprofit dedicated to the arts and education by Charles Babcock in 1964.
  • Reynolda House opened to the public as an arts institution in 1965. Barbara Babcock, Mary and Charles’ daughter, founded the fine arts collection.
  • The House opened an art museum in 1967, unveiling a preliminary collection of 12 American paintings. In its first year of operation, the museum welcomed 11,111 visitors.
  • Reynola House Museum of American Art became accredited by the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums) in 1972.
  • In 1973, the Museum revealed a permanent exhibit displaying clothing, accessories, toys, and other items belonging to the Reynolds family from the past century.
  • The estate joined the National Register of Historic Places. The newfound Reynolda Historic District includes Reynolda House, Reynolda Gardens, Reynolda Village, and Reynolda Presbyterian Church.  

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Reynolda House artwork
  • In 2002, the Museum became officially affiliated with Wake Forest University.
  • In the following few years, Reynolda House underwent a significant expansion and unveiled the Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing in 2005, which includes a gallery, auditorium, and fine arts storage spaces.
  • Over the years, the Museum has added exhibits and pieces and now features 6,000 items and artworks that span 250 years of history. Artists displayed in Reynolda House include Georgia O’Keeffe, Frederic Edwin Church, Andy Warhol, and Grant Wood.

Read More: 125+ Important Facts About North Carolina You Should Know (History, Geography, and More!)

Visiting the Reynolda House Museum of American Art Today

Address: 2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC
Official Website

Reynolda House kneeling venus

Reynolda House is a 34,000-square-foot historic home converted into a commended museum for American art and culture. Stepping into the House is like a portal into another time, the well-preserved 64 rooms providing glimpses into the history of this country estate.

Read More: 40+ of the Most Amazing Museums in North Carolina (for ALL Ages!)

Admission & Ticket Information

Reynolda House pool

Reynolda House is open six days a week. Its operating hours are:

  • Tuesday to Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Closed Mondays

Tickets are $18 per person and can be purchased before your visit here or at the front desk. However, the Museum offers free admission for quite a few different groups, including:

  • Museum Members
  • Children under 18
  • College students with ID
  • Active or retired military personnel with ID
  • Wake Forest University employees with ID and one guest
  • Bank of America cardholders on the first full weekend of each month

Read More: Staying at Graylyn Estate in Winston-Salem (and 7 Reasons We Love It!)

Museum Exhibits

Reynolda House bar

The Reynolda House Museum of American Art has different revolving exhibits on display at any given time. Currently, there are two limited galleries for visitors to explore.

Reynolda House

The first featured exhibit, Smith & Libby: Two Rings, Seven Months, One Bullet, examines what is undoubtedly Reynolda’s greatest mystery.

After midnight on July 6, 1932, Zachary Smith Reynolds, the youngest child of R.J. and Katharine Reynolds, was shot on a porch on the estate.

He died that morning, a tragedy that has caused fascination, bewilderment, and curiosity that remains to this day. Investigations into Smith’s death resulted in his wife, Libby Holman, being charged with first-degree murder, although the case was suddenly dropped.

Even now, it is unknown whether Smith’s death was accidental or intentional, a mystery that this exhibit seeks to unravel piece by piece.

Reynolda House bird collection

The second exhibit currently on display is a historical examination of the Black community in Reynolda. Still I Rise: The Black Experience at Reynolda is modeled after Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” which used Reynolda as its setting.

This exhibit tells the stories of the Black men and women who played a pivotal role in the creation and evolution of Reynolda House. Art, letters, photographs, and audiovisual recordings weave together a reflective picture of the Black experience at Reynolda.

Read More: 25+ Important Places to Visit and Learn About Black History in North Carolina

Ready to Visit the Reynolda House Museum of American Art?

    Reynolda House porch

We visit the Reynolda House Museum of American Art any time we’re in the Winston-Salem area and will keep coming back for more. This truly is a treasure and worthy of anyone’s NC bucket list, including our own!

If you’re familiar with this special place in Winston-Salem, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know about your experiences in the comments and don’t forget to share your adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!

Things to Do Nearby

If you have more time to explore the area, there are even more things to do near the Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

Reynolda Gardens

Address: 100 Reynolda Village, Winston-Salem, NC 27106

Reynolda Gardens greenhouse

The Reynolda Gardens have been part of the Reynolda estate since the very beginning, comprising 16 acres, including a man-made lake, golf course, formal gardens, greenhouses, and woods. The Gardens enclose Reynolda House from all sides.

While the landscape of Reynolda has changed over the past century, the original vision of the Gardens remains intact. In 1953, Charles Babcock donated the Gardens to Wake Forest University, who wanted the grounds to be used as a space for reflection and leisure in honor of his late wife Mary.

The 134-acre Reynolda Gardens of Wake Forest University is now a peaceful outdoor haven open to the public from sunrise to sunset daily.

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Reynolda Gardens

The iconic Lord and Burnham Greenhouse was completed in 1913, named for the renowned conservatory makers who had worked on other widely publicized projects nationwide.

The bright and airy greenhouse has cultivated a broad floral display that includes orchids, bromeliads, cacti, aroids, and palms. It’s is currently undergoing renovations, and anticipated to be open to visitors again sometime in Spring 2024.

Weaving through the grounds are over two miles of trails and paved paths perfect for walking or jogging. The trail winds through woodlands and an open meadow past a small but picturesque waterfall.

Visitors could easily spend an afternoon exploring the outdoor grounds of Reynolda.

The final aspect of the expansive grounds is the Formal Gardens, a highly curated space divided into four quadrants. Each section has a unique theme:

  • The Pink & White Garden
  • The West Rose Garden
  • The East Rose Garden
  • The Blue & Yellow Garden

You’ll find gorgeous Japanese-style tea houses, pergolas, two fountains, and more throughout the Formal Gardens. These structures and details come together to form a private, peaceful space. 

Read More: 16 of the Most Beautiful Botanical Gardens in North Carolina

Reynolda Village

Address: 2201 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC

Reynolda Village

The adjacent Reynolda Village is a historic neighborhood of charming buildings that once supported the Reynolds estate. The buildings resemble that of an English village and used to house businesses such as a post office, blacksmith shop, dairy barn, and more.

Reynolda Village restaurant

Today, Reynolda Village is a thriving mix of shops, restaurants, and boutiques that welcome visitors to shop or browse. The village has created an unmatched environment with twinkling outdoor patio lights, secluded pathways, and a chic atmosphere.

Reynolda Village bookshop

Some shops at Reynolda Village include:

Reynolda Village beautiful

After a day of exploring Reynolda House and Gardens, you’ll likely be ready for dinner! Reynolda Village has a delicious array of restaurants to choose from:

Read More: Why and How to Support Amazing Local Businesses Every Day

More Winston-Salem Attractions

While Reynolda is one of the best places to see in Winston-Salem, it is far from the only thing to do in this Central NC city.

Winston-Salem is a bustling city, with a rich history to dive into and fun things to do.

Old Salem 2023 Heritage Bridge
  • First, visiting Old Salem is a must if you’ve never been. Before 1913, Winston and Salem were two distinct cities, merging as the two settlements grew. This preserved village provides a glimpse into 18th-century Moravian life.
Downtown Winston Salem North Carolina
  • Downtown Winston-Salem is a colorful explosion of art and culture. Several murals and art galleries are scattered throughout downtown. The Downtown Arts District is between Trade & Liberty Street, filled with working studios and galleries and a great place to soak in the city’s creativity.
SECCA Winston Salem
SECCA in Winston-Salem
  • The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) is another great thing to do in Winston-Salem. Art lovers and history enthusiasts alike will enjoy the exhibits this vibrant art museum has to offer. Since 1956, SECCA has showcased contemporary art and culture in a dynamic atmosphere where artists can connect with the Winston-Salem community. Rather than display any permanent collection, SECCA is comprised entirely of rotating exhibits, often featuring emerging artists from the region and worldwide.

Read More: 8 Innovative Breweries in Winston-Salem (Perfect for Craft Beer Lovers!)

More Things to Do Near Reynolda House

We’ve created many more NC travel guides that feature the Reynolda House Museum of American Art and these nearby Winston-Salem attractions! Here are a few of them.

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