A moonshiner mannequin — and a taxidermied bear — on watch at Clay County's history museum. Photo by NC ECHO

This is the first installment of a series of articles on cultural preservation in Western North Carolina. Look for additional stories in coming weeks.

The multifaceted history of Western North Carolina is reflected in the dozens of local history museums that dot the area. Each has something unique to offer, and together they form a mosaic of our region’s past.

The variety shown in a recent survey of these institutions is striking: Some are big and have substantial support, while some are tucked away in corners and run by little more than the passion of local history buffs.

The map below offers an online guide to these museums in N.C.’s 18 westernmost counties. It will be an ongoing project, incorporating new information. So please let us know if details about local museums here are incorrect or need updating or additions. You can leave a comment below or send an email to our editors.

The photos included in the map, along with much of the details about the local museums, are drawn from NC ECHO (Exploring Cultural Heritage Online), a state-run project that expired this summer but is archived here.

WNC’s Local History Museums

View WNC’s Local History Museums in a larger map. Click on icons for museum descriptions, photos and links to additional information.

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Jon Elliston is the lead contributing open government reporter at Carolina Public Press. Contact him at jelliston@carolinapublicpress.org.

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  1. I’m delighted to see this series being done–thanks! Our cultural institutions need all the attention, visitation, and support they can get! People tend to forget that museums are as much educational places as are schools, but we are not REQUIRED to go there–which makes it all the nicer!