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About Us

Inside the Mountain Heritage Center


Join us at the Mountain Heritage Center -- celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of the southern Appalachians. Through exhibits, publications, educational programs, and events, you'll discover the rich traditions of the mountains, see the Appalachian region from new perspectives, and come away with an enhanced understanding of its land and people.

Our Mission

The Mountain Heritage Center is a museum that engages WCU and the wider community in the study, preservation and celebration of southern Appalachia’s cultural heritage and history.

  • We CONNECT people with local history and culture.
  • We BUILD BRIDGES between the university and the regional community.
  • We SERVE as a cultural resource for the region.

Museum and Programming

A regional museum, the MHC documents, studies, and interprets the culture and history of Southern Appalachia. It provides museum services to western North Carolina, collecting artifacts, building exhibitions, and showcasing traditional skills including craft and music. The MHC produces books and musical recordings, and enriches the curricula of K-12 and university students.

Major exhibits have examined the Scotch-Irish, handicraft traditions, Plott Hounds, and mountain trout. The Smithsonian Institution and the American Folklife Center have adopted some of its programming. The collection of over 10,000 artifacts was started in the early 20th Century by faculty and staff at WCU. It is rich in agricultural implements, logging and woodworking tools, textiles, and transportation equipment.

The MHC is committed to public history, especially to interpreting current academic studies of Appalachia. Student workers are involved in every aspect of the MHC's work and the our professional staff is committed to helping them with their career path. Download this pdf to see the MHC's impact on the region in 2019.

Mountain Heritage Day

Mountain Heritage Day cloggers

Cole Mountain Cloggers at MHD

Mountain Heritage Day, a fall festival always held the last Saturday of September, presents traditional mountain culture to tens of thousands of visitors.  You'll find Appalachian dance and song, including old-time, gospel, and bluegrass. Explore traditional crafts, demonstrations and participate in competitions and more.

Partnerships across the WCU campus

We're especially proud of the partnerships we've created with our Western Carolina University colleagues. These partnerships result in students and classes creating real-world products such as digital exhibits, research endeavors, and educational programs used by the Mountain Heritage Center 

The MHC has worked with members of the History Department, Dr.'s Andrew Denson, Rob Ferguson, and Jessie Swigger; members of the Anthropology Department including Dr.'s Ted Coyle, Jane Eastman, and Ben Steere; and members of the Art Department including Dr. Erin Tapley

Partnerships with offices across campus have included Center for Career and Professional Development, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, Hunter Library, Special and Digital Collections at Hunter Library, WCU Special Events, and

Partnerships with student groups have included History Club and Pride of the Mountains Marching Band.

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