Jim Geary has been collecting toys since he was a boy in 1950. The fascination and hobby that has stuck with him throughout his life all started with a 1911 Rolls Royce model car kit.
It took over 30 years, but Harold Sims can now show the world.
“It’s been very rewarding,” he said. “I wanted to have a cat shelter, I made that come true. I wanted to have a cat museum, and I made that come true. It’s like the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ — ‘if you build it, they will come.’”
WNC Museums Although the rich history and culture of Western North Carolina is alive and thriving through the hands of our local artisans and performers, there are also numerous museums here preserving and perpetuating the heritage of Southern Appalachia. These buildings each pay homage to the crafts, sounds, and deeply held traditions of these ancient mountains and its people.
• American Museum of The House Cat
Over 5,000 items dedicated to entire history of the house cat, here and abroad. 4704 U.S. 441 South, Sylva.
828.421.0275 or 828.506.1236 • www.facebook.com/americanmuseumofthehousecat
• Andrews Art Museum
Exhibits and galleries featuring local and regional artists. Corner of Chestnut and Third streets, Andrews.
828.360.5071 • www.andrewsvalleyarts.com
• Canton Area Historical Museum
Displays focusing on the cultural history of Canton and Haywood County. 36 Park Street, Canton.
828.646.3412 • www.cantonnc.com
• Cherokee County Historical Museum
Artifacts and exhibits showcasing the Cherokee Indians, local history and artisans.
87 Peachtree Street, Murphy.
828.837.6792 • www.cherokeecounty-nc.gov
• Clay County Historical & Arts Council Museum
Displays exhibiting the history, art and people of the area. 21 Davis Loop, Hayesville.
828.389.6814 • www.clayhistoryarts.org
• Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum
Extensive exhibits on the region’s gems and minerals. 25 Phillips Street, Franklin
828.369.7831 • www.fgmm.org
• Glenville Historical Museum
Showcasing the history and culture of Glenville and greater Western North Carolina with exhibits and displays. 4735 N.C. 107 North, Glenville.
• Graham County Museum of Prehistoric Relics
A collection of prehistoric artifacts from North, South and Central America. 3204 Fontana Road, Fontana Dam.
828.479.3677 • www.thehikeinn.com
• Highlands Museum & Historical Village
Several restored buildings, with historical exhibits in the museum. 524 North 4th Street, Highlands.
828.787.1050 • www.highlandshistory.com
• Junaluska Memorial & Museum
Displays dedicated to preserving Cherokee Indian history and culture. 1 Junaluska Drive, Robbinsville.
• Macon County Historical Society & Museum
Antiques and artifacts showcasing the history of Macon and Western North Carolina. 36 West Main Street, Franklin.
828.524.9758 • www.maconnchistorical.org
• Mountain Farm Museum
Collection of historical log buildings and artifacts. 150 U.S. 441 North, Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
423.436.1200 • www.nps.gov/grsm
• Mountain Heritage Center
Extensive displays of Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachian history. 150 H.F. Robinson Building, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee.
828.227.7129 • www.wcu.edu
• Museum of American Cut & Engraved Glass
Presenting one of the finest collections of its kind in the world. 472 Chestnut Street, Highlands.
828.526.3415 • www.ashevilleguidebook.com
• Museum of the Cherokee Indian
Large exhibits showcasing the extensive and intricate tribe history. 589 Tsali Boulevard, Cherokee.
828.497.3481 • www.cherokeemuseum.org
• Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts
Unique works from some of the state’s most acclaimed artisans. 49 Shelton Street, Waynesville.
828.452.1551 • www.sheltonhouse.org
• Ruby City Gems Museum
Thousands of gem and mineral specimens on display. 131 East Main Street, Franklin.
828.524.3967 • www.rubycity.com
• Scottish Tartans Museum
Exhibit on Scottish history and culture abroad and in Western North Carolina. 86 East Main Street, Franklin.
828.524.7472 • www.scottishtartans.org
• Wheels Through Time Museum
Rare and extensive collection of vintage motorcycles and classic automobiles. 62 Vintage Lane, Maggie Valley.
828.926.6266 • www.wheelsthroughtime.com
• World Methodist Museum
Artifacts and memorabilia celebrating founder John Wesley and the worldwide religion. 575 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Junaluska.
828.456.9432 • www.worldmethodistcouncil.org
At first glance, the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum may seem like a hokey tourist attraction, but visitors willing to give it a closer look will discover the largest inventory of gems in the Southeast.
There are bucket lists and then there are bucket lists. As parents, the bucket lists we envision for our kids do not necessarily conform to their own bucket list. But this spring break we stood our ground and imposed, gasp, D.C. and the Smithsonian for our annual trip.
It’s been more than 10 years since Alen Baker decided, while recuperating from surgery, to pass the time by writing about what his Trout Unlimited chapter had been up to that year. Those 15 pages turned into a book, which turned into something even bigger — the idea that somebody should take it upon themselves to memorialize the Southern Appalachians’ fly fishing legacy in a museum somewhere.
SEE ALSO: A look inside the museum
Step inside Cherokee’s newest museum, and the scent of freshly cut wood and tranquil lighting will immediately greet you with the knowledge that you’ve made the right choice.
It’s been two years since Alen Baker, the self-described “instigator” of the effort to create the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians, sent an unsolicited pitch to the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce. But now, the building is renovated and the chamber has moved its offices into part of it. Opening day is slated for May 1, and the museum will hold its first annual fundraising dinner Nov. 1 to gather funds to purchase and display fly-fishing memorabilia from across the region.
Inside and out, the Swain County Heritage Museum is an ode to history. The very building that houses the museum long served as the courthouse in Bryson City, and now serves to usher visitors through all those many years gone by.
The Shelton House, which is home to the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts, opens for its 35th season this summer.