The hostess at the banjo-shaped reception desk welcomed us and told us about the museum. She described the way the museum is layed out and requested we not take photographs upstairs, "because we want the people to come here and see it for themselves." Of course, we acceded to her request, so there are no pictures taken upstairs in this fine museum. Admission was $5.00 per person.
Five rooms upstairs use state of the art displays and a treasure trove of Ralph Stanley's memorabilia to tell his story. By using a pair of headphones handed to us at the desk, we were able to plug into a number of stations where we listened to Dr. Ralph's own explanations of various parts of his life while looking at some of the vast array of pictures, posters, festival brochures, record sleeves, clothing, and awards that have figured in his life. High definition television screens show films of Carter and Ralph Stanley early in their performing career and a number of materials put the Stanley story into context with reference to other local and regional musicians whose names have also become well known. People like Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Wade Mainer, The Carter Family, Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley, and many more figured in Stanley's life as well as the history of the region's music. Even for people familiar with his story or who have read his recently published and widely praised autobiography, visiting this museum fills in holes and fills up ones understanding of the man and the context from which he comes. The museum is worth the time spent there and the effort to get there.
The Museum also has lodging facilities where you can arrange to stay.