A regional museum, the Center studies, documents, and interprets the culture and history of Southern Appalachia and provides museum services to the western part of the state. To that end it collects artifacts, builds exhibitions, documents and presents traditional craft demonstrations and musical performances, produces books and musical recordings, and enriches the curricula of elementary, secondary, and university students.
Its collection of over 10,000 regional artifacts is especially rich in agricultural implements, logging and woodworking tools, textiles, and transportation equipment.
The Center is committed to public history, especially to interpreting current academic studies of Appalachia to the public. Its programming highlights traditional music and crafts along with the history and natural history of Appalachia. The Smithsonian Institution and the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress have adopted some of its programming. Major research exhibits have examined the Scotch-Irish, various handicraft traditions, and mountain trout.
There is no admission fee.
Mountain Heritage Day, a fall festival always held the last Saturday of September, presents traditional mountain music, crafts, dance and culture to tens of thousands of visitors.
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