Online exhibit details courthouse art wall

Mar. 04, 2013 @ 03:32 PM

At the opening of the new Durham County Courthouse in last month, a three-story photo mosaic image of Durham's 1916 courthouse was unveiled.

The mosaic’s 265 unique photographs trace the concept of justice in Durham from the county’s earliest days. They depict people and institutions affiliated with the formal justice system and those outside the system that played a part in the pursuit of justice.

A new online exhibit, “And Justice for All,” explores the history of the people, places and events that appear in those photos. Viewers can access the exhibit both online at, and at a touch-screen display in the lobby of the new courthouse.

“And Justice for All” serves as a catalog of the images featured on the art wall, breaking the historical photographs into three major collections – individuals, groups and buildings – then further sorting the images into 28 subject matter headings, including Academic Freedom, City Council, District Attorneys, Hayti Businesses, Law School Deans, Justice Center Neighborhoods, Urban Renewal and more.

Through photographs, the exhibit documents the history of the Durham County justice system since its beginnings in 1881, but it also depicts images of justice beyond the courtroom, including those who fought for the rights of African Americans, gays, women and workers, and historical justice-related events such as the largest troop surrender of the Civil War and the taking of land for Camp Butner. The exhibit also includes photos of Durham’s former courthouses and of the neighborhood where the new courthouse sits.

The images were selected by a committee formed by county manager Mike Ruffin in July 2011. Representatives from Durham County government, the Durham County judicial system, O’Brien/Atkins Associates, PA (the architects of the courthouse) and the community reviewed hundreds of images in order to select those that would appear in the photo mosaic and the online exhibit.

Images were provided by Durham County Library’s North Carolina Collection, and the library created and maintains the online exhibit.

For more information about the exhibit, contact local history librarian Lynn Richardson at 919-560-0171.