From 1865 to today


From 1865 to today
Immerse yourself in the past, and try on a few hats in an early Belk department store while your at it!

Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers

The centerpiece of Levine Museum is the award-winning exhibit, Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers: Reinventing Charlotte and the Carolina Piedmont in the New South. Spanning 8,000 square feet and including more than 1,000 artifacts, images, video clips, music, and oral histories, the exhibit uses Charlotte and its 13 surrounding counties as a case study to illustrate the profound changes in the South since the Civil War.

Visitors enjoy an interactive, hands-on experience as they tour 6 different "environments" within the exhibit.

  • Step inside a one-room tenant farmers house
  • Run a hand through a pile of seed cotton
  • Listen to the churning of the cotton mill
  • Play checkers on the front porch of a mill house
  • Sit in Good Samaritans Hospital Chapel, one of the first African-American hospitals in the South
  • Walk down main street and try on a hat in an early Belk department store
  • Sit at a lunch counter and hear personal accounts from local sit-in leaders

Planning for this exhibit began in the mid-1990s, and became a reality when the exhibit was unveiled with the Museum’s re-opening in 2001.

With funding provided by a National Endowment for the Humanities planning grant, the Museum brought together a panel of nationally known historians of the New South, with a focus on the Carolina Piedmont, including Dr. David Carlton of Vanderbilt University, Dr. David Goldfield of UNC-Charlotte, Dr. Lu Ann Jones of East Carolina University, and Dr. Tom Hanchett, then of Emory University. These advisors recommended the exhibit explore economic transformations that pushed the Piedmont from a region of small farms after the Civil War to America's main textile factory region by the 1920's, to the second largest banking center in the U.S. today. They urged the Museum to tell this story using "social history," history from the perspective of people who actually lived through it.

This approach won major support from the NEH, which awarded the Museum an implementation grant that allowed the Museum to hire renowned exhibit designers, Staples & Charles of Alexandria, Virginia. In 1999, Dr. Hanchett joined the Museum as historian, and together with exhibit director, Jean Johnson assembled a team to bring together more than 1000 artifacts, images, video clips and oral histories that make up the exhibit. The result is the most comprehensive interpretation of post-Civil War Southern history in the nation.





09.18.2016 - 09.18.2016
Join historian Dr. Tom Hanchett as he shares those stories— plus the new history that’s unfolding on Central Avenue now.
10.20.2016 - 10.20.2016
This program will explore its 45 year history since Swann vs. Charlotte Mecklenburg.
10.27.2016 - 10.27.2016
Enjoy an evening of art and culture around uptown - for free!
11.15.2016 - 11.15.2016
The Charlotte Teachers Institute’s and the Museum present a talk with Dr. Shep McKinley, author and senior lecturer at UNC Charlotte, on how Reconstruction shaped the New South
10.26.2017 - 10.26.2017
Uptown Charlotte's arts and culture scene for FREE on Thursday, Oct. 26! From 6-9 PM, hop on a complimentary trolley and ride around to all the participating locations, including Levine Museum.

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