Photos courtesy of Mountain Gateway Museum / Terrell Finley
Activities & Interests
Mountain Heritage Center
The Mountain Heritage Center, located on the Western Carolina University campus in Cullowee, North Carolina, showcases the cultural and natural heritage of the southern Appalachians. With offices and two exhibit spaces in WCU’s Hunter Library, the Center presents changing exhibits on many aspects of our region’s culture and history, such as Cherokee arts and crafts, African-American community history, Appalachian ballad singers, and the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Each fall, the Center presents Mountain Heritage Day, recently named one of the Top 20 festivals in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society. Always held on the last Saturday in September, this free celebration of southern Appalachian music, arts, dance and culture has something for everyone, with demonstrations of traditional mountain crafts and skills, Cherokee stickball games, over 100 arts & crafts vendors, and numerous children’s activities. For music lovers, the performances are non-stop, with shape-note singing, bluegrass, old-time string bands, ballads, gospel music and clogging on stages and tents throughout the day.
The Mountain Heritage Center publishes books, produces musical recordings, and hosts educational programs for local public school children and university students. Its collection of over 10,000 artifacts includes woodworking tools, quilts, coverlets, and early transportation equipment. Some of the Mountain Heritage Center's programming has been used by The Smithsonian Institution and the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.
Hours of Operation
Office & 2nd floor exhibit gallery: 8 am – 5pm Monday – Friday,
1st floor exhibit gallery: 10 am – 4pm Monday – Friday, 10 a.m-7 p.m. on Thursdays
The Mountain Heritage Center observes a university holiday schedule, so it is advisable to call ahead for information.
Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.
The Mountain Heritage Center is located at the entrance to the campus of Western Carolina University, about 5 miles south of Sylva on NC 107.
Mountain Heritage Center
176 Central Drive
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, NC 28723
- Cullasaja River Gorge (13 miles)
The Cullasaja River Gorge offers a spectacular drive along the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway between Franklin and Highlands, NC.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (14 miles)
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with a gateway in Cherokee, NC, is the most visited National Park in America.
- Scottish Tartans Museum (14 miles)
The Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, NC displays over 500 tartans and serves as a Scottish Heritage Center for the region.