Museums

Mountain Heritage Center

Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC

The Mountain Heritage Center celebrates the natural and cultural heritage of the southern Appalachian region. Through exhibitions, publications, educational programs, and demonstrations, the center promotes rich traditions of the mountains.

“The Migration of the Scotch-Irish People” is the center’s permanent exhibit. It describes the Scottish and English migrants who settled in Northern Ireland in the seventeenth century, and whose descendants came to the New World in the eighteenth century to make homes in the coves and hollows of western North Carolina. As they adjusted to their new environment, these people (known in Ireland as the Ulster Scots and in America as the Scotch-Irish) retained some of their traditions, which survive today in Appalachian family names and folkways.

The center also produces temporary exhibits around such themes as blacksmithing traditions in the mountains, mountain trout, the natural and cultural history of an Appalachian watershed, and the enduring popularity of hand-woven coverlets and the Southern Appalachian handicraft movement.

The heirlooms of hundreds of western North Carolina families are just some of the articles of historical significance preserved by the Mountain Heritage Center. The center’s collection, numbering more than ten thousand artifacts, provides rich material for exhibits that illustrate mountain ways of life and continuity with the past.

In addition to preparing exhibits and maintaining its extensive collections, the center prepares multimedia presentations and publishes books, tapes, and other materials on mountain culture. For information about the museum, its special events, educational programs, programs for groups, and hours of operation, call 828-227-7129, or visit their website.

A Historical Journey Through A Living Village

Cherokee, NC

The Oconaluftee Village is located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Western North Carolina. Sparkling streams, majestic views, and unspoiled beauty attract millions of visitors to the Park every year. During your tour of the Oconaluftee Indian Village, you’ll not only get a glimpse of Native American life as it was 250 years ago, you’ll have an opportunity to stroll through the Oconaluftee Indian Village Herb Garden and the magnificent Nature Trail.

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Cherokee, NC

Your trip through the Museum of the Cherokee Indian begins with these words: “Welcome. I want to tell you a story, a very old story.” Cherokee storytellers have always been the keepers of traditions, legends, and rituals, so it is only right that you start your Cherokee journey in a story hut with a storyteller who explains how the Cherokee world was developed. Expect to be surprised, though–the Museum’s storyteller throws in some modern special effects to liven up the tale.

Totally renovated in 1998, the new museum is a new experience. By combining high-tech wizardry and an extensive artifact collection, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian is fun for the entire family and an exciting, educational event. For information about the museum, its special events, educational programs, programs for groups, and hours of operation, call (828) 497-3481 or visit the museum website.


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