For the last three decades of her life, the late Dr. Maya Angelou called Winston-Salem, NC, home. A famed poet, author, and professor at Wake Forest University, Dr. Angelou was a beloved member of the Winston-Salem community and left a lasting legacy that continues to inspire local artists and innovators. On your next visit to Winston-Salem tour the city that highlights Angelou-inspired art installations honoring her life and legacy. Start or stop anywhere you’d like along this self-guided tour.
Locations below are listed in alphabetical order.
Benton Convention Center
301 W 5th St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Artist: Dennis Wells
Title: Maya Angelou – In Her Own Words
Just completing a multi-million dollar renovation, Winston-Salem’s downtown Benton Convention Center features a public art project showcasing 13 original artworks by NC-based artists. Of them is artist Dennis Wells’ portrait of poet, memoirist and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou (pictured left). Wells’ 10′ x 13′ installation was created using her quotes from her life and work. It is part of his “In Their Own Words” series of pen and inks.
Historic Brookstown Inn
200 Brookstown Ave., Winston-Salem, NC, 27101
Artist: Leo Rucker
Title: Tribute to Maya
Winston-Salem-based artist, Leo Rucker created this unique piece of art on wrapped canvas with the help of talented wood craftsman, Larry Willis who specializes in making shaped canvases. The custom-designed canvas, mixed with Rucker’s acrylic painting gives viewers an almost 3-D effect. Find this piece hanging in the charming setting of The Historic Brookstown Inn Hotel conveniently located in downtown Winston-Salem.
Kimpton Cardinal Hotel
401 North Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
North Carolina’s first Kimpton hotel is nestled in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem and is housed inside the historic 1913 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Headquarters building. Winston-Salem’s iconic Art Deco building is also the architectural protoype for the Empire State Building. The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel features 42 art and design nods to North Carolina and Winston-Salem. One thoughtful example of this is the carpeting found in their Magnolia room. Dr. Angelou’s poetry is inscribed in the carpeting in her handwriting. Groups and wedding parties especially love this personal touch, and guests are welcome to request a peek at the room to see (and read) if the room is open and available. We suggest contacting the hotel beforehand to guarantee access.
Coming Soon: The Cardinal is currently in the works of offering a hotel property tour to showcase all the art and stunning architecture of this historic gem. More details on their hotel tours to come.
101 West Fifth Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
In 2013, Dr. Maya Angelou and hundreds of her closest friends celebrated her 85th birthday (hosted by Oprah Winfrey) in downtown Winston-Salem at the Millennium Center. In preparation for this occasion, owner Greg Carlyle commissioned local artists to paint Dr. Angelou’s poetry on the walls of one of the Millennium Center’s lounges. They’re still on display in what is now called the “Maya Bar.”
Wake Forest University
Z. Smith Reynolds Library
1834 Wake Forest Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27106
Head to Wake Forest University’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library and find a collection of Angelou’s movie scripts, drafts of plays, and other materials related to her work in film, television and theater. With three days notice, visitors are encouraged to request the manuscripts for study, research, or pure enjoyment. Before her death, Dr. Angelou spent 30 years as a professor at Wake Forest University.
“She devoted her life at Wake Forest to creating a love of language and a keen awareness of the power of literature and learning, and generations of Wake Forest students have lived richer lives for her teaching and guidance,” said Dr. Nathan Hatch, president of Wake Forest University.
In an interview, Dr. Angelou once told USA Today when asked about teaching, “I’m not a writer who teaches. I’m a teacher who writes. But I had to work at Wake Forest to know that.”
Another Point of Interest: In 2017, Wake Forest dedicated a new residence hall to Dr. Angelou. Housing only freshmen students, the hall is the first campus building named for an African-American and the second residence hall to bear the name of a female professor.