When a representative of the North Carolina Museum of History contacted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, it came as quite a surprise to leaders of the international ministry. A subsequent meeting resulted in a simple question: would the BGEA be interested in designing a special exhibit on the noted evangelist for the Museum of History in Raleigh?
Their answer was a resounding “yes”, and staff members began to formulate plans for an informative 5,000 square foot interactive display.
The Rye Foundation joined with other philanthropic organizations in providing major support for the project. It reminded some of the Rye Foundation’s very first charitable gift, a $25,000 investment in 2001 for the work at the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville.
Rye leaders joined Franklin Graham at the opening night tour. They saw exhibits on the dairy farm where Mr. Graham grew up, as well as his Crusades throughout the country. A special console allowed visitors to punch a button and hear testimonies from well-known business leaders and entertainers.
In 2013, our state legislature voted to name Billy Graham as “North Carolina’s Favorite Son.” The exhibit was a strategic effort to help citizens learn about the life and ministry of our famous citizen.
When the exhibit ended its 8-month run, a total of 92,000 people had traveled to the Museum of History for a tour. Over half of these visitors were school children and their teachers.
One donor asked this question: “Where else can we have such a positive impact on thousands of North Carolina children?”