Appalachian Cultural Museum

Appalachian Cultural Museum

Characterizations of Appalachian culture often range from the derogatory to the overly romanticized. Dr. Chuck Watkins and the staff at the Appalachian Cultural Museum do their best to present the culture and traditions of the Southern Appalachians in a way that is authentic, entertaining and educational.

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Dr. Watkins, professor of history at Appalachian State University and the Museum’s Director, helped to open the museum in 1989 as a place where visitors can learn about the unique culture, history and natural wonders of the region without being misled by stereotypes and oversimplifications. The complexity and richness of Appalachian culture is evident in the wide range of permanent exhibits, temporary exhibits and other activities offered at the Museum.

The Museum staff recommends that you set aside at least an hour to tour the museum and its native gardens. The permanent exhibits at the Museum occupy most of the Museum’s ten thousand square feet and deserve almost an hour unto themselves. Self-guided or guided tours begin at the exhibit that explains how the Appalachian Mountains were formed and displays examples of fossils that can be found in the region. Elisha Mitchell, who declared Mt. Mitchell the tallest Mountain east of the Mississippi has his own exhibit as well as does the now dismantled and oft-derided Howard’s Knob windmill. The exhibit dedicated to the Native-American inhabitants of the Appalachian region begins with an impressive stack of arrowheads and other stone tools and focuses on the many aspects of Native-American culture in the Appalachians that remain a mystery. The impressive Daniel Boone exhibit features original romantic, impressionist paintings by the well-known American painter James Daugherty. The Civil War exhibit focuses on life during wartime and Appalachia’s Union and Confederacy soldiers.

Exhibits dedicated to everyday life in Appalachia range from quilts, looms, furniture, Victrolas and farming equipment to a fully assembled log cabin that served as a display piece in the Chicago Worlds Fair. Museum curators even went so far as to reassemble an entire wing of John Wards General Merchandise Store inside the Museum. The African-Americans in Appalachia exhibit focuses on the impressive lineage of Judith Barber, a Wilkesboro resident who was born into slavery and raised ten daughters. The mountain music exhibit features a wide variety of instruments and a display dedicated to well-known local musicians Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman. The exhibit dedicated to the Land of Oz theme park that was once located on top of Beech Mountain features original costumes, decorations and other artifacts. There are several exhibits dedicated to local industries from skiing to sauerkraut. NASCAR lovers will enjoy the Junior Johnson exhibit that features two of the Wilkes County native’s racecars.

The Museum also features the Kimberly Hampton Steward Memorial Garden that features native Appalachian plants and a butterfly garden. The best time to tour the garden is in the spring, when the rhododendrons are in bloom, or in early summer.

The museum’s extensive staff of teachers and performers also offer hour long programs that focus on such topics as, jack tales, old-time music, Cherokee culture, colonial frontiersmen and weaving. There are also number of educational field trips offered by the museum that you or your group can join with the proper arrangements.

The Museum is located on University Hall off of 321 between Staples and Greene’s Motel, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Closed Monday. Admission for Wednesday through Saturday is $4 for adults, $3.50 for senior citizens, and $2 for patrons ages 10-18. Children under ten get in free. Appalachian students, faculty and staff get in free with ASU ID. For more information, to arrange a group tour or to join one of the Museum’s trips or special programs, call 828-262-3117 or visit http://www.museum.appstate.edu .

Physical Address:

The Appalachian Cultural Museum
University Hall Dr
Boone, NC 28608
Phone: 828-262-3117
Fax: 828-262-2920

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