Meister named Mountain Heritage Center director

Pam Meister has been named director of Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center, well known as a showcase for Southern Appalachian culture, programs and exhibits and as a regional facility for research and education.

Meister had served as interim director since August 2014. She began work at the center as curator in 2010. 

The Mountain Heritage Center is housed at Hunter Library, where staff work with artifacts, exhibitions and demonstrations, and offer classes through its Appalachian Living craft and skills program. The center also sponsors the First Thursday Old-Time and Bluegrass Series, with free performances held in the ground-floor auditorium of H.F. Robinson Administration Building, followed by a jam session in which local musicians are invited to participate. 

“In 2010, I celebrated my 25th anniversary as a museum professional and came to WCU because I wanted to be involved in training the next generation of museum professionals,” Meister said. “My working with the students, faculty and staff here has been a dream come true for me. The Mountain Heritage Center is a true teaching museums. Its strong community connections and robust partnerships allow us to give our students extraordinary engaged learning experiences that also fulfill WCU’s commitment of service to the region.” 

The museum can trace its beginnings to the late 1920s when a small collection of documents and artifacts was begun. The name — and a space in McKee Building — was established in 1975, then the center moved to the ground floor of the H.F. Robinson Building in 1979, where it resided until fall 2015. 

“My work as interim director has centered around the MHC’s move to Hunter Library. This has allowed us to expand our work with faculty and students, improve our collections storage facilities, and provide additional outreach exhibits and programs to community venues throughout Western North Carolina. I’m honored to be chosen to lead the center through its next transition, crafting a vision for a permanent home,” she said.

Meister’s previous leadership roles in museums include service as director of education and interpretation at the Atlanta History Center, executive director of the Upcountry History Museum, president and CEO of the Charlotte Museum of History and executive director of the Southeastern Museums Conference, a museum association serving 12 Southeastern states. She also worked as chief curator of the Jekyll Island Museum in Georgia and as arts coordinator at the Okefenokee Heritage Center in Waycross, Georgia. A former board member of the American Alliance of Museums, Meister is the recipient of AAM’s 2003 Excellence in Peer Review Service Award and of SEMC’s 2014 James R. Short Award for lifetime achievement.

Meister also has been an adjunct professor teaching courses related to museum studies and cultural resource management at institutions including Southeastern Louisiana University, Georgia College and State University, the University of West Georgia and the University of North Carolina Charlotte. A native of New Orleans, she earned a master’s degree in arts management from the University of Georgia and a bachelor’s degree in theater with a minor in history from the University of New Orleans.

For more information, contact the Mountain Heritage Center at 828.227.7129.

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