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Prior to the Raleigh City Museum?s establishment in 1993, the city had existed for more than two centuries without any official repository for its historical artifacts. The museum is privately owned and managed by Mary Cates, who founded the museum as a way of bringing to life the vision of local historian Beth Crabtree.

The museum currently has two permanent exhibits. One of it is the It Started with 1,000 Acres exhibit, which boasts of a comprehensive profile of Raleigh?s timeline. In this exhibit, visitors would learn lots of interesting and fun tidbits about the city?s history, such as the only time the city?s population went down or finding out when and why the Capitol catch fire took place. The other exhibit is entitled Let Us March On: Raleigh?s Journey towards Civil Rights. This exhibit focuses on the city?s two-decade struggle and political evolution. Past exhibits featured in the museum include Portraits of Raleigh, the Art of Business, and Higher Education in Raleigh. Current exhibits include the Revolution of Media and the Painted Archives.
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