The New Winston Museum announced a name change and new location Wednesday, with plans to open the new location on South Liberty Street in 2021.

The museum will now bear the title MUSE Winston-Salem and in 2021 will locate in the former U.S. Bankruptcy Court building at 226 S. Liberty St.

MUSE officials said they plan to move their offices into the new site during February and would begin renovations in the spring. 

Officials said the new name is not only a shorthand way to say museum, but also is an acronym that stands for "Museum of Understanding, Storytelling and Engagement."

What the group wants to stress is that they have never seen themselves as overseeing a building full of artifacts. 

Instead, the museum sees its mission as one involving "inspired learning, lively storytelling and community reflection that will be at the core of visitor experience and educational programs," according to the group's new release.

"Our goal is to spark and sustain meaningful conversation, grounded in accurate history and inclusive of stories representing our community's remarkable diversity," said Mike Wakeford, the interim director of MUSE.

Wakeford said the museum will have interactive exhibits to explore the city's past, and programs geared for audiences of all ages.

"Winston-Salem deserves an innovative history museum that attracts everyone from weekend tourists to busloads of students from around the city," Wakeford said.

Last September, the Winston-Salem City Council approved the purchase of the former bankruptcy court building for $1.65 million. The court moved to a building at 601 W. Fourth Street. The city is renting the old court building to MUSE for a token $1 per year payment as a way of helping out the museum.

The new MUSE site sits at a strategic location: It is near the spot where a new pedestrian "land bridge" is crossing Business 40 as a way of providing a crossover for the downtown Strollway. Pedestrians crossing from north to south will practically arrive at MUSE's front door.

The land is also the site where Peter Oliver had his farm. Oliver, a slave born in the Moravian community of Salem in 1766, bought his own freedom in 1800 from money he made as a skilled potter.

Fred Terry, the vice chair of the museum board, said MUSE hopes to turn the land around the museum building into a park that honors Oliver.

The land bridge, designed by North Carolina native architect Walter Hood, is designed to have plantings on both sides of a path that takes it over Business 40.

Larry Shaver, resident engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation in Forsyth County, said that completion of the land bridge is on the back burner until Business 40 reopens this year as Salem Parkway.

The land bridge spans the freeway path, but more work remains to be done to turn it into the artistic creation Hood envisioned.

In addition to the bridge work, the state is handling the construction of new Strollway approaches to the bridge on the north and south sides of the land bridge. To the south, the Strollway is now closed north of the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway Freight Warehouse and Office, a 1913 building that houses Willow's Bistro.

In between that building and the bridge, the Strollway will cross over the site of two buildings that were torn down in preparation for the Business 40 work: the former STEAM Academy building and the former Carolina Business Interiors structure. 

"We will create the new Strollway that goes up to the bridge where the STEAM Academy was," Shaver said. "On the north end, you will turn to the left and the Strollway will tie back in right beside the three-story building (250 W. First St.) at the corner of Cherry and First."

MUSE officials say that when their museum reopens in 2021, it will have multiple galleries for changing exhibits, interactive augmented and virtual reality technology, hands-on activities and an oral history recording studio.

The building will also flexible space for lectures, performances and other events that can be shared with other community groups.

The New Winston Museum opened in 2012 and operated on South Marshall Street in a building that was given to the museum by the late Frank Borden Hanes Sr.

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