A photo of a ‘Belle’ by Ann Ehringhaus.

Two island artists have developed an art show around the eclectic items found in the Belhaven Memorial Museum.

Kitty Martin Mitchell and Ann Ehringhaus will show their work in “The Belles of Belhaven” at the Kitty Mitchell Studio across from Community Square on Ocracoke, with an opening from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, with beverages, hors d’oeuvres and live music.

A ‘Dark Princess,’ painting by Kitty Mitchel.

“Ann and I independently of each other thought it would be fun to do a show based on the insanely eclectic items in the Belhaven Museum, so we are doing it together,” Mitchell noted. “My focus was on the female images: the mannequins, the photos, the dolls and figurines. Hence the ‘belles’ of the Belhaven Museum.”

The museum, at 210 E. Main St., Belhaven, Beaufort County, honors Beaufort County native Mary Eva Blount Way, who, according to the Roadside America website, simply couldn’t throw anything away.

“It’s the craziest eclectic collection of things you could imagine,” Mitchell said. “Everything from old photos, fancy old ball gowns to candy tins, weapons, critters preserved in formaldehyde, skeletons, a giant map of the United States made out of buttons, flea circus, and much, much more.”

According to Project 543 on the visitnc.com website, Miss Eva began her collection with a humble box of buttons given to her by her mother-in-law; the collection eventually grew to more than 30,000.

As time passed, friends and neighbors contributed trinkets and treasures until Miss Eva’s collection grew too large for her family barn.

After her death in 1962, citizens of Belhaven purchased her collection to create Belhaven Memorial Museum and allow visitors to step back in time.

A spokesperson for the Belhaven Chamber of Commerce said the museum hasn’t been open for a while and did not know when it would open.

Clarification: Mitchell said she and Ehringhaus got their photos before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 closed many places.

Eva Blount Way.
‘Eyes Through Time,’ by Kitty Mitchell
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