Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers: Charlotte and the Carolina Piedmont in the New South

Sundays, Mondays, Fridays & Saturdays
Levine Museum of the New South

The centerpiece of the Museum is the award-winning exhibition, Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers: Charlotte and the Carolina Piedmont in the New South. Covering 8,000 square feet, the exhibit features 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.

The exhibit development team was comprised of:
Dr. Tom Hanchett, Jean Johnson, John Hilarides, Ryan Sumner, Dr. C. Brenden Martin, Cathy Grybush, Boston Productions, Imaginary Voyage, Inc., Studio Displays, Staples & Charles, and Unworld Productions.

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Schedule & Tickets

Sundays, Mondays, Fridays & Saturdays
$6 adults$5 students, seniors 62+ and children 6-18Under 6 free.FREE - Every Su

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Find Us

Levine Museum of the New South

401 S. Tryon St. Ste. 100
Charlotte, NC 28202
704-333-1887 phone

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Parking & Transit


On weekdays, Levine Museum provides visitors 2 hours of validation for parking in Seventh Street Station parking deck, which is located next to the museum. After 2 hours, regular parking fees apply.

On weekends and for evening events, the museum provides parking validation, with no hourly limit.

Visitors should present parking ticket for validation at the Guest Services desk upon arrival.


From I-77 North, take John Belk Freeway / I-277 North (exit 9B) to the College Street exit. Take College Street (one-way) to 7th Street. Turn right onto 7th Street. The Museum is on the right, on the corner of College and 7th, with the entrance facing 7th Street.

From I-77 South or I-85, take I-77 South to Brookshire Freeway (exit 11). Take Brookshire Freeway East / I-277 South (exit 11A). Take the Church/Tryon Street exit onto 11th Street. Turn right onto Tryon Street. Turn left onto 7th Street. The Museum is on the right, on the corner of College and 7th, with the entrance facing 7th Street.