The Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy has reopened after a more than half-million-dollar renovation featuring professional exhibits that trace the life of the “Sheriff of Mayberry.”
The revamped museum features exhibits built in the form of storefronts that house a total of at least 1,000 pieces of memorabilia collected by the late Emmett Forrest, a life-long friend of Griffith.
“The concept is strolling through Mayberry and various phases of Andy’s life,” Tanya Jones of the Surry Arts Council said Wednesday in announcing the museum’s reopening. Jones led the drive to build the museum in 2009 and said the plan was always to renovate with professional exhibits once the museum was established..
The museum closed for the renovations on April 7 and reopened on June 29.
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Visitors begin with the Snappy Lunch exhibit showcasing Griffith’s early years. They next move to the Earle Theatre featuring his movie clips and then to Floyd’s Barber Shop and Emmett’s Fix-It Shop. The Mayberry Courthouse & Jail is the centerpiece.
The museum also includes a Hollywood display, musical recordings and a “Matlock” exhibit.
“Many people don’t realize the depth of his career – he was a comedian, Grammy-winning musician, Broadway actor and a movie star from the 1950s until just prior to his death in 2012,” Jones said.
Although the museum focuses on Griffith’s entire life and not just “The Andy Griffith Show,” plenty of items are from the famous TV series, including: Andy’s sheriff shirt, the gavel and eagle from his desk, both sets of jail cell keys, Barney Fife’s salt-and-pepper suit worn on dates with Thelma Lou, the suit of town drunk Otis and Goober Pyle’s bronzed beanie.
The newest item is a neatly pressed white suit worn by Griffith in Brad Paisley’s 2008 “Waitin’ on a Woman” video.
Mark Meagher of Nashville designed the exhibit, while fellow Nashville resident Jim Clark conceptualized the design and handled content. Clark is president of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club. Studio Displays Inc. of Charlotte built the displays and LKC Creative of Raleigh did the audio/visual stations.
“Our goal is to preserve Andy's legacy with a quality experience, and this renovation achieves that,” Jones said. “Emmett would love this. This exceeds his dream, no question.”