We are happy to be a part of Blue Star Museums, which is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across the United States to offer free admission to the country’s service members and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Cowan Museum of History and Science


The Cowan Museum of History and Science was founded in 1981 by George and Ila Cowan as a memorial to their daughter, Joann Cowan Brown. It is housed within the Kelly-Farrior House (ca. 1848) and has an adjacent historical park with 6 buildings, which include a log cabin, general store, and a tobacco barn. Also on the grounds is a botanical garden with approximately 90 species of commercially-available native plants in what has become the region's first free, public native-plant-focused botanical landscape garden. This outdoor space, which is open 24-hours a day, has pollinator gardens, a wet meadow garden, Longleaf Pine upland garden, and a Bald Cypress wetland garden. 

Of the 4,300 objects in the collections, about 2,000 were donated to Duplin County by the Cowan family, with most focusing on 19th and 20th century tools and technology that document a history of innovation, resourcefulness, and creativity. Objects on display include a diversity of woodworking tools, gardening tools, agricultural implements, items used in a variety of crafts and trades, medical devices, many household artifacts, and an impressive collection of geological specimens. Unique items may be encountered onsite, such as a 1930s permanent wave machine, an alternative fuel fan, and a hog oiler.

The Cowan Museum of History and Science is a department of Duplin County.

Hours of Operation:


Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Dear Friends,
Due to COVID-19, the Cowan Museum of History and Science will suspend its operations to the public starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. and remain closed until further notice.

Please stay safe and be well.

​​Tours are mostly self-guided. If you would like a guided group tour, please call to schedule a time and we would be delighted to make accommodations. We ask that you give staff at least one day's notice, as current projects may obstruct galleries. 

The main building can comfortably accommodate up to 15 people at a time. Children under 10 should be accompanied by an adult. 

Admission is FREE; Donations are appreciated; Bus parking is available; Wheelchair access to the first floor galleries of the Kelly-Farrior House is provided.

The botanical garden trail is made of crushed stone and meets the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design.