On the evening of October 19, 2019, The Country Doctor Museum in Bailey, North Carolina invited the public to their “Twilight at the Museum” event. Volunteers in costume set the tone as families arrived to see the spooky side of early medicine and enjoy complimentary cake, popcorn, and hot cider.
The Country Doctor Museum is the oldest museum in the United States dedicated to the history of America’s rural health care. It’s unique and has a wide variety of medical paraphernalia on display.
The mid-October weather was cool and comfortable, not cold. Costumed “Plague Doctors” and students in Victorian clothing roamed the museum grounds handing out candy to children and adults. Volunteers in an old-time nurse’s uniform or a long black dress led groups through The Country Doctor Museum and shared historical information on Victorian medicine, doctoring, hospital conditions, and more. The museum displays include a wide variety of artifacts from the days when doctors made home visit and embalming was a new thing. Tours of the museum were given for a $4 fee, with funds going to the museum.
Historical demonstrations of Civil War era amputation surgery and embalming techniques were given throughout the evening. A photo area was set up with a “corpse” (skeleton) inside the gift shop. In the refreshments tent, a fortune teller read palms and gave fortunes.
This event was fun, educational in a grisly way, and well-worth it. Many of those in the crowd not only took the tour, but stayed for several hours, cycling through the buildings and grounds.
Although this event is over, the museum is open year round and many of the items displayed during Twilight at the Museum are available to see during their regular daylight hours. There won’t be demonstrations and Plague Doctors, though. For that, you’ll have to attend Twilight at the Museum next year!
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.